Sneed does it all for River Lions
It’s not surprising that Xavier Sneed has filled up the stats sheet for the Niagara River Lions this season.
The 23-year-old St. Louis, Mo., native leads the Canadian Elite Basketball League squad with 17.8 points per game, is second in assists (2.4 per game) and rebounds (4.7 per game) and ranks third in steals (1.6 per game).
His pro numbers are merely a continuation of his collegiate career at Kansas State where he was the only Wildcat to post at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 150 steals in a career.
“I pride myself on having any aspect of my game I can go out there and work on it and be effective at it,” the 6-foot-5, 215-pound forward said. “As one thing goes up, you move on to the next and try to get better at the next one. That is who I have always been as a player.”
River Lions head/coach GM Victor Raso has been more than happy with the play of Sneed.
“He is a really good player and we are trying to develop his offensive game,” he said. “He has done it well in spurts here. He is an improving three-point shooter and we trying to work with him more playing off the catch and putting the ball down but the stuff that he does very well is defending and rebounding.
“He is a monster covering the ball, he is a monster on the glass and he is a really good kid.”
Sneed knows he still has work to do on his game.
“It is my overall aggressiveness offensive-wise and attacking the basket which is what I have trying to do a lot more lately.”
He became aware of Niagara and the Canadian Elite Basketball League because his agent is a friend of River Lions assistant GM Antwi Atuahene.
“He gave me the whole rundown about the league and I was very interested in coming. Me being here, it has definitely lived up to the hype,” Sneed said. “I came up here for an opportunity to play and the guys have embraced me as a team and I am grateful for the chance.”
He has enjoyed the CEBL.
“It is a highly competitive level of play here and I like it so far. It is going to help me get to where I need to be.”
Prior to joining Niagara, Sneed played for the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA during their 2020-21 pre-season and went on to suit up for their G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm.
That experience told him where he was in his quest to play in the NBA.
“I am right on the cusp. Last year was a tough year for me being a COVID year. I didn’t get a full chance or a full swing at everything. I was taking in the business of everything as well and learning how everything works,. Having that year under my belt will help me in my game going forward.”
Raso feels Sneed has intangibles that will help him achieve his goals.
“He is coachable, he has NBA aspirations and he conducts himself like you would expect from someone who is trying to achieve a goal like that,” he said.
Being a good person will go a long way to helping him achieve his lofty goals.
“NBA teams do their homework,” Raso said. “If you are a top 100 player on the world, they might take a gamble on you but when you are fighting for those fringe spots, who you are matters. That is why I think him and Javin (DeLaurier) have real chances because the talent and athleticism is there and they are the kind of people you want on your team.”
Sneed received several academic honours while playing at Kansas State and the business management already knows what he wants to do when his playing career is over.
“Later on down the line, I want to become an athletic director at a university. I want to stay around the sports realm and help give back to kids.”
But right now, he is focused on the River Lions and he feels the sky is the limit for his team.
“There’s a lot of great guys here and every day you never know who is going to step up and make a big shot or go off for 30 or 40. We have a lot of guys who are versatile and can do a lot of different things.”
His time with Niagara has been the first time he has experienced Canada.
“The last two months have been very good to me,” he said.
He has noticed a particular trait about Canadians.
“They are way too friendly man, way too friendly. It is hard to explain. They are way friendly than you would expect especially with me being from America.”
He has also dabbled in Canuck cuisine.
“I tried poutine for the first time and it was great.”
Sneed has become a big consumer of Tim Hortons products.
“I am a huge Timbits fan,” he said, with a laugh.
Away from the court, he likes to listen to music (reggae, hip hop, R and B) and go on drives.
“Around Canada there are lots of backroads and I like to drive around and see different spaces. That is something I have always done in my spare time.”
The River Lions (6-3) host the Guelph Nighthawks (2-8) Friday at 7 p.m. at the Meridian Centre.