Fraser Valley’s basketball Bandits sign top draft pick

Joel Friesen was the first overall selection in the Canadian Elite Basketball League entry draft.

The Fraser Valley Bandits have signed Abbotsford native Joel Friesen, the team’s first overall selection in the inaugural Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) Entry Draft.

Friesen, a six-foot-five guard, averaged 12.4 points per game this past regular season for the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans of the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC). Friesen maintained impressive shooting percentages of 45.9 per cent from the field, 40.6 per cent from three-point range and 88.6 per cent from the free throw line, while also collecting 4.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in just under 23 minutes of action a night.

“The opportunity to come home and be a part of the Fraser Valley Bandits is nothing short of a blessing. I have many fond memories of the Fraser Valley and Abbotsford will always be home,” Friesen said. “I’ve always tried to set an example for the next generation to follow, and I believe that signing with the Bandits is a great opportunity to engage with the community and inspire youth to pursue their dreams.

“Basketball is a powerful platform, and I intend to use it to champion a lasting legacy in British Columbia and beyond.”

Friesen’s basketball roots run deep in the Fraser Valley.

He was a key cog in the Yale Lions’ 3A senior boys title winning team in 2008 and went on to become a Canada West All-Rookie Team selection as part of the then-UCFV Cascades. Friesen is credited with helping carry the Cascades to the team’s first-ever Canada West final four birth in 2012 after hitting an iconic buzzer beater against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.

Friesen concluded his U SPORTS career at the University of Alberta where he played an important role for the Golden Bears team that won a Canada West championship in 2013.

Since turning pro, Friesen has won three NBLC titles and suited up for Canada Basketball’s senior men’s national team in 2018 as part of the team’s push towards a birth at the 2019 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup in China this upcoming September.

Friesen’s Bandits open their inaugural season May 9 at 7 p.m. against the Guelph Nighthawks at the Abbotsford Centre.

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