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

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

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

Posted Friday, May 20, 2022 4:21 p.m. EDT

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

TORONTO — Mike Morreale says late Thursday night there were “thousands and thousands and thousands” of people on the waiting list to buy tickets for the Scarborough Shooting Stars’ inaugural season.

The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) team had just announced that they had signed Jermaine Cole – better known as J. Cole, an American rapper and Grammy winner.

“(Thursday) night at one point there were around 3,200 people in line just to buy a ticket. It was madness,” said Morreale, CEO of CEBL, which kicks off its fourth season on Wednesday. “I expected the buzz, I didn’t expect the landslide, but it’s great for what we’re trying to do.”

While Cole, a six-foot-three guard, is expected to spend much of the summer on the road touring with his day job, Morreale said his basketball signing is legit.

Morreale insisted the signing is not similar to stunts involving Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, who was offered a contract by ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors in 2012, and joined FC training Barcelona with Neymar and Lionel Messi in 2016.

“It’s not a ‘Hey, we need a buzz, let’s sign Jermaine Cole,'” Morreale said. “It’s only natural, we just have a partner who has a relationship (with Cole) and this guy has a goal in mind.”

The Shooting Stars are partly owned by Niko Carino, one of the co-founders of Drake’s label OVO (October’s Very Own).

Drake posted Cole’s signature on his Instagram Thursday night.

Cole played with the Rwanda Patriots in the Basketball Africa League last year but averaged just 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 15 minutes per game over three games before leaving in because of what he described as a family obligation. He also played basketball in high school and was an extra at St. John’s University, but never acted, pursuing his music career instead.

“There is a desire on (Cole’s) part to play basketball, the opportunity is there, he had tried it last year, and I think he feels more comfortable in this situation. , and obviously surrounded by people he trusts,” Morreale said. “The most important thing is how he approaches it. He’s going to have to be part of the team and he’s going to have to prove himself and that’s his MO. He wants to be treated like any other basketball player.

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

Morreale said he was not concerned about Cole’s musical conflicts, 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 not different, it’s more publicized, but it was all done for the right reasons,” Morreale said. “He doesn’t come here to entertain us beyond (basketball), and just from my time, my experience with him, I’m really excited about what he can bring.”

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

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

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

The Stars’ staff, meanwhile, includes former NBA All-Star Jamaal Magloire, who serves as the team’s vice president and senior adviser. Former national team player Brady Heslip is the club’s managing director.

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

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