River Lions pick Carleton and Brock players
The Niagara River Lions shopped the rosters of two Ontario university powerhouses when making its selections in the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s 2023 U SPORTS Draft.
Niagara selected Carleton’s Aiden Warnholtz in the first round of the draft and Brock University’s Jordan Tchuente in the second round.
Warnholtz, a six-foot-2 guard from Ottawa, recently won his fourth national championship with the Ravens, earning the U SPORTS Final 8 MVP award and two Nike Top Performer in U SPORTS championship games awards in the process. His 2022-23 season saw the five-time Academic All-Canadian break seven schools records, including assists in a season (145), playoff assists (46) and minutes played (761). Warnholtz concluded the season averaging 17 points, 6.6 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game and was named a First Team All-Canadian.
“I am grateful for the opportunity and excited to be part of the River Lions organization,” Warnholtz said. “I’m looking forward to being on a team that has championship aspirations as I develop my own game under coach (Victor) Raso and learn alongside seasoned pros.”
Raso, Niagara’s head coach and general manager, is happy to have Warnholtz on his roster.
“Aiden is a skilled, smart and competitive guard who plays the right way,” he said. “He is a winner, comes from a winning program and is an excellent person. We’re excited to welcome him to our organization.”
Tchuente, a 6-foot-7 forward from Ottawa, returns to the squad after signing a developmental contract with Niagara last season. With the River Lions, he averaged 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds in nine games. With the Badgers in 2022-23, Tchuente averaged 10.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He recorded game highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds and had seven double doubles during the season.
“I am excited to be selected to be part of the River Lions organization,” Tchuente said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to learn, develop and contribute and I can’t wait to get to work.”
Tchuente made an excellent impression last season with the River Lions and Raso wanted him back.
“He is tough, physical and plays bigger than he is. Most importantly, he is an incredible teammate. He had a great season for a great Brock program and we’re excited to welcome him back.”
The U SPORTS and the CEBL partnership allows student-athletes to get their first taste of professional basketball and sharpen their games on and off the court during the summer. Drafted players can either have finished their university careers or be returning to their university squads this fall. The latter players are classified as a developmental players.
Season tickets, voucher packs, group tickets and single game tickets are on sale now at www.riverlions.ca/tickets.
LOCAL BUSINESS OF THE GAME
The River Lions and Meridian have teamed up to recognize local businesses during the 2023 Canadian Elite Basketball League with the Local Business of the Game.
Local businesses are encouraged to apply online until May 17 at www.riverlions.ca/localbusiness. Ten will be randomly selected to receive 20 tickets for a home game and recognition through the River Lions’ social media channels and website.
“Meridian Credit Union continues to show that they are true community partners in Niagara. For the second straight year, they are committed to giving back to local small business owners,” said Matthew Johnston, vice-president of business development for the River Lions.
The program was launched in 2022.
“We are delighted to support the Niagara River Lions and be involved in this worthy cause,” said Stephen Otten, regional vice-president, business banking at Meridian. “Sports play an important role in maintaining and growing a healthy community. We hope this initiative and partnership can help to shine a light on some of the amazing businesses that help make Niagara great.”
NIAGARA TRAILERS HIGH FIVE TUNNEL
Youth groups and organizations can now apply to be part of the Niagara Trailers High 5 Tunnel for all of Niagara’s home games.
Ten to 20 children will be allowed to stand on the court and high five River Lions players as they take to the floor for pre-game warm-ups. Participants will then get to stay to watch the game in the Niagara Trailers row.
Groups are encouraged to apply online at www.riverlions.ca/high5apply and 10 will be randomly selected for the program.
“Here at Niagara Trailers, we take pride in community involvement,” said the Petrie family, owners of the locally and family owned business established in 1972. “We are so pleased to be involved with the River Lions, as ourselves, our family and staff always enjoy the opportunity to attend a game for a great night out. The games are always an unforgettable, exciting, and fun experience, not to mention an opportunity to see some fine elite players and possible future NBA prospects.”
Niagara had dozens of applications for the 2022 season.
“Thanks to Niagara Trailers, we are very excited to be providing over 120 children with a unique, fun experience that they will remember for a lifetime,” Johnston said.