Photo by Alex D'Addese

Toronto ballers find summer home in Nike Crown League

By Jessica Pincente

TORONTO - Ryerson University’s Kerr Hall gym has been recently occupied by the summer’s annual tenants, and several Rams have found their way back to Ryerson this offseason to compete against the best basketball talent the city has to offer.

The Nike Crown League, Canada’s top pro-am league based in Ryerson’s Kerr Hall, has been thriving for the last five summers. The league brings together top local talent, featuring high school, collegiate and professional athletes, for a five-week, six-team tournament in downtown Toronto.

Several Rams have taken to the court in Kerr Hall, including sophomore Tanor Ngom, fifth-year seniors Myles Charvis and Jean-Victor Mukama, and incoming transfer Jayden Frederick.

Top players from around the city found a home on Ryerson’s campus this summer, but recognition for the university’s offerings goes beyond that of the facilities. Recent graduates and Crown League participants Adika Peter-McNeilly (2012-2017) and Aaron Best (2011-2016) have made names for themselves in Canadian basketball, going on to play professionally in Germany’s Basketball Bundesliga and the NBA G-League, respectively.

With a mix of past and present Rams participating, Ryerson veteran and Crown League rookie Myles Charvis says it was great to be apart of the festivities after watching from the sidelines for the last few years.

“Being that it was my first year in the Crown League, I was following the lead of the older guys who have been there before,” says Charvis. “The atmosphere was like no other, from the way they renovated Kerr Hall with the spotlights, big screen, and DJ equipment to the big crowd that came out. It was truly a fun experience that I hope to continue to be part for summers in the future.”

With an atmosphere widely compared to that of the Drew League in Los Angeles, Crown presents players with an opportunity to hit the court in a light-hearted environment whilst facing off against the best competition in the city.

The opportunity to display local talent is a priority, but participation in the league also presents a homecoming opportunity for many players, says Ryerson’s JV Mukama.

“A lot of the players in Crown play professionally, whether that be overseas, in the NBA, U SPORTS, NCAA,” explains Mukama. “It’s an opportunity for their family and their loved ones to see them play at the level they’re at right now.”

NBA players often make unscheduled appearances. LA Clippers rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a Hamilton, Ont. native like Mukama, dropped in to play with M.A.D.E last week as they took on Mukama and his 6Man teammates.

“It’s always a great atmosphere,” says Mukama. “It’s a great platform for all of us to reunite and play the game we love.”

Charvis says the players all share dreams of going pro, but it’s important to remember there’s always room for fun.  

“We all have goals in basketball and want to end up playing professionally, but, if you’re not having fun during the process, is it really worth it?” asks Charvis. “Crown [League] was nothing but positive vibes, and I want to bring that same energy to Ryerson throughout the year.”

Nike Crown League action will wrap up this week on Friday, July 27, 2018, in Kerr Hall. 1Love T.O. will face M.A.D.E for the Crown League championship, and 6Man will face Northern Kings for the third-place title. The festivities will also see Canada’s U18 women’s team take on local Toronto all-stars. Information about the games can be found here.

The Rams, on the other hand, will continue to prepare for their upcoming preseason clash against the Duke Blue Devils on August 15, 2018, with the 2018-19 regular season beginning on October 26, 2018, at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.


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