Morreale says signing J.Cole isn't just about creating a buzz for CEBL

Morreale says signing J.Cole isn’t just about creating a buzz for CEBL

Laurie Ewing, Canadian Press

Posted Friday, May 20, 2022 4:21pm EST

Last updated Friday, May 20, 2022 4:21 PM EDT

TORONTO — As of late Thursday night, Mike Morrell said there were “thousands and thousands and thousands” of people on the queue to purchase tickets for the inaugural season of the Scarborough Shooting Stars.

The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) team has just announced the signing of Jermaine Cole – better known as J. Cole, American rapper and Grammy winner.

“(Thursday) night at some point, there were about 3,200 people in line just to buy a ticket. It was crazy,” said CEBL CEO Moriali, who is coming out for its fourth season on Wednesday. “I was expecting some fanfare, I wasn’t I’m expecting a landslide, but it’s great for what we’re trying to do.”

While Cole, the six-foot-three guard, was scheduled to spend most of the summer on the road touring with his day job, Morial said his basketball signing was legit.

Morial insisted the signing was nothing like the stunts involved in Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, who was offered ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors in 2012, as well as joining FC Barcelona coaching with the likes of Neymar and Lionel Messi in 2016.

“That’s not a hi, we need a bang, let’s sign Jermaine Cole,” Moriale said. “That’s normal, we’ve had a partner who has a relationship (with Cole) and this guy has a goal in mind.”

The Shooting Stars is partly owned by Niko Carino, one of the founders of Drake’s OVO brand (very special for the month of October).

Drake posted Cole’s autograph on Instagram Thursday night.

Cole played for the Rwanda Patriots in the CAF Basketball League last year, but averaged 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 15 minutes per game over three competitions before leaving due to what he said was a family commitment. He also played basketball in high school and was walking at St. John’s University, but he never played and instead pursued his music career.

“There is a desire at the end (Cole) to play basketball, the opportunity is there, he tried that last year and I think he feels more comfortable in that situation, obviously surrounded by people he trusts,” Morial said. “More important than that is the way he approaches it. He will have to make the team and he will have to prove himself and that is MO. He wants to be treated like any other basketball player.”

Shooting Stars play their first-ever game Thursday in Guelph, and Cole will only be able to play three matches before opening their first round on June 10.

Morreale said he’s not interested in Cole’s musical struggles, noting that the league allows other players to come and go for commitments such as playing for the national team or in the NBA summer league.

It’s no different, it’s a more prominent place, but it was all done for the right reasons,” Morial said. “He didn’t come here to entertain us outside (basketball), and just from my experience with him, I’m really excited about what he can offer.”

Cole won a Grammy in 2020 for Best Rap Song (“A Lot” by 21 Savage featuring J.Cole) and earned nine BET Hip Hop Awards. He also has six platinum albums and has produced songs for artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson and Young Thug.

His last album “The Off-Season” was released a year ago.

CEBL has grown from seven to 10 teams this season, with the addition of Shooting Stars, Montreal Alliance and Newfoundland Growlers.

Meanwhile, the all-star cast includes former NBA star Jamal Magloire, who is the team’s vice president and chief advisor. Former national team player Brady Heislip is the club’s general manager.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on May 20, 2022.

2022-05-20 20:21:16

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