Thursday, December 24, 2015

NBLCNET's 2015-16 Team Previews: Orangeville A's

Orangeville Banner / Paul Grottoli
The Orangeville A’s are back home, so to speak. The Athletic Institute-owned club moved during the
2015 offseason, travelling from Brampton to Orangeville.

The A’s leave Brampton after two years of coming up short in the playoffs -- both times to Windsor. Brampton fell to Windsor in seven games in the Central Division final, even though they held a 3-1 series lead. The Brampton A’s, led by current league commissioner David Magley, were always one of the league’s best teams, even though they were unable to force their way through the always difficult Central.

While the decision to move the A’s out of the near-silent Powerade Centre is a good one, it’s uncertain if the club will perform off of the court in its new basketball-hotbed home, especially since they plan on playing at the gym belonging to the owners.

Regardless, 2015-16 brings another fresh start to a club in desperate need of one.


One of the most notable names left off of NBLC rosters this preseason was Cavell Johnson. The dominating 6’8” forward as an unstoppable force for the Brampton A’s during their stint in the GTA. Johnson is currently playing in Finland.

The A’s are also missing a number of key guards that helped them to one of the best offences in the NBLC (second in points per game at 108.8). Akeem Scott, Akeem Ellis, and Kyle Johnson are not with the club. In fact, of the three returning players this season, only Richard Amardi (13ppg) placed in the top ten in scoring. Players like Tyshawn Edmondson and Anthony harris also leave some big holes on defence.

Jameson Tipping, David Tyndale, Bilal Benn, Rick Bodiford, Lewis Jackson
The A’s backcourt will look quite a bit different this time around. Backed by NBLC vets in Jameson Tipping, David Tyndale, and Rick Bodiford, Orangeville will be hoping for a good mix of new and old.

Lewis Jackson has the potential to be one of the best point guards in the NBLC this season. At 5’10”, 165lbs, the Purdue grad promises to replace some of the quickness the club had in the 1 spot last year with players like Akeem Scott. The Illinois native comes to the club after 68 appearances in the D-League, averaging 6apg.

Bilal Benn could be one of the more promising players to come through the A’s this season. The 6’6” shooting guard has the size to make for a talented NBLC swingman, with quite a bit of experience. The 29-year-old is coming off of successful campaign in the Israeli second division.

Rick Bodiford has the most NBLC experience on this roster. The 28-year-old has come off of the bench for Laval, Mississauga, and Brampton during the league’s four previous seasons. At 6’5” the guard-forward will likely be played in the backcourt -- but the versatility doesn’t hurt.

Jameson Tipping is back with the club after sitting out 2014-15 due to a lower leg injury. The Western Kentucky grad will be pulling the strings on offence for his hometown club, who missed his presence in the starting lineup last year. Look for the swingman to pull both forward and guard duties this season.

FORWARDS: Richard Amardi, Justin Moss, Flen Whitfield, Robert Diggs, Daniel O’Keefe, Erik Copes, Anto Raic

While the the front court contains a lot of new faces, there are some returning players. Flen Whitfield is back for a third year with the A’s, providing athleticism, as well as a familiarity with the league that will prove valuable. After being behind Cavell Johnson for the past two seasons, Whitfield certainly looks like a breakout candidate.

Also returning is Richard Amardi. Amardi’s return is a bit of a surprise, as a “basketball punting” incident stapled him to the bench during the second half of last season. If given playing time, however, Amardi can thrive as a “stretch 4”, as his 43% 3 point shooting illustrates. He also helps Orangeville to fill out their Canadian content.

One player arrival came in a roundabout way, and that is the signing of NBLC #1 pick Erik Copes. Originally drafted by the River Lions, Copes got lost among a packed Niagara frontcourt. With the A’s, he’s given a second chance to impress.

Rob Diggs represents another connection to the PBL’s Rochester RazorSharks, where he averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds per game. The power forward has also twice been drafted into the D-League, although he only played nine games.

Anto Raic might sound familiar to NBL fans, having a nine game stint with the Moncton Miracles. The 6’7 Brock grad is a former NBL draftee as well, having gone in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft. Raic will also fill a Canadian player slot. He, along with Daniel O’Keefe and Justin Moss, round out the frontcourt.

COACH: Chris Thomas

While losing David Magley to the league’s front office was a massive blow for the franchise, they appear to have found an adequate successor. Chris Thomas comes to Orangeville after successful stints as an advanced scout . The Ohio native also brings knowledge of FIBA basketball through serving as an Assistant Coach for the Slovenian Senior Men’s National Team for the past two years. While Magley proved to be one of the league’s best coaches during his time, this club managed to find a replacement who offers a similarly impressive resume.


One could probably put a pile of question marks here to get the point across. If recent history tells us anything, it is that the A’s will again be a fun and exciting team. Unfortunately, with so few familiar faces, and even fewer details on the team coming out of Orangeville, it’s hard to predict anything. Who knows, maybe the A’s are a team much like the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, a team that can handle roster turnover every year, because the system in place is so strong. We won’t know until Boxing Day.