St. John’s native Cole Long begins his professional basketball career with his hometown Growlers

Former Memorial Sea-Hawks goaltender Cole Long of St. John’s is now a member of the Newfoundland Growlers Basketball Club. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

St. John’s Cole Long won’t have to clean out his locker at Memorial University Field House this summer after becoming one of the newest members of the Newfoundland Growlers Basketball Club.

Long, 26, will swap his red-and-white Sea-Hawks jersey for the black-and-gold Growlers as the club takes to the field at Field House for its inaugural season in the Canadian Basketball League Elite on June 4.

On Tuesday night, Long was selected third overall by the Growlers in the 2022 USports Draft, which allows players from colleges across the country to enter the league.

“It’s honestly just surreal,” Long told CBC News on Wednesday.

“It was always a dream of mine to play at the professional level, even college like I just finished. It was still a dream come true, and now it’s just another step.”

Long spent years lighting up basketball courts in St. John’s, while playing at the University of Detroit Mercy from 2016 to 2019, before returning to play for Memorial. The six-foot-seven guard averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds per game as a fifth-year senior last year.

The Growlers also had the 18th pick in Tuesday’s draft, selecting Mason Bourcier of Trinity Western University. Bourcier, a native of Kelowna, BC, averaged 16 points, 9 ½ rebounds and just under nine assists per game last year.

Wednesday wasn’t the first time Long was drafted into the Canadian Elite Basketball League, which debuted in 2019 and has become the largest professional sports league entirely based in Canada.

He was selected by the Guelph Nighthawks in the 2021 USports Draft, but missed the season due to injury. Long said the two teams had a mutual agreement to allow him to be selected by the Growlers, allowing him to begin his professional career where his love for the game began.

Left to right: Mike Morreale, Commissioner of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, Vianne Timmons, President of Memorial University, and Dean McDonald, Owner of Deacon Sports and Entertainment announced the arrival of the Newfoundland Growlers Basketball Club in November . (Terry Roberts/CBC)

“It’s really lucky that they gave me this opportunity to start it all at home, in front of a community that I love,” Long said. “Both my parents will be at every game, I’m sure all my friends will be cheering me on and that kind of stuff.”

Long said he’s looking forward to seeing how he stacks up against some of Canada’s top basketball talent ahead of the upcoming season, while helping to create a winning culture in St. John’s.

“I think it’s going to be a really exciting atmosphere. There’s going to be a lot of passionate guys who are really excited to have a really good first year,” he said.

“Everyone wants to win, so everyone is going straight for the championship. No reason not to, we have a talented team.”

The Newfoundland Growlers share a name, logo and proprietary team with the ECHL hockey team based at the Mary Browns Center in St. John’s.

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