YORKTON - Basketball fans in Saskatchewan should soon be turning their attention to the Saskatchewan Rattlers.
The Canadian Elite Basketball League franchise begin its 2022 CEBL season May 25, at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, and leading up to the launch of the franchise’s fourth season the Rattlers have been busy signing talent.
The Rattlers recently announced they had signed Canadian center Jordy Tshimanga.
Tshimanga finished his college career in the NCAA playing for Nebraska and Dayton University. He most recently played in the NBA G League averaging 6.4 points and 6.1 rebounds in 42 professional games in the 2021-22 season. He has played four games with the Cleveland Charge, and finished the season with the Iowa Wolves alongside Rattlers teammate, Malik Benlevi.
That’s a pretty good recent resume for a Canadian talent who is listed one-inch shy of being seven feet tall, at a position where height is always an asset.
Tshimanga said he’s just looking forward to the opportunity of playing on home country soil this summer.
“It’s the first time as a Canadian I get the opportunity to play at home,” he told Yorkton This Week.
Tshimanga admitted initially he didn’t know a great deal about the CEBL, but when he did some investigating liked what he found.
“When I looked into it, definitely . . . I got feedback from players who played in the league,” he said, adding the word was “it was a good opportunity to go back and play in my home country.”
The signing might surprise some, as Tshimanga hails from Montreal and the Alliance are an expansion team in that city which is signing a lot of players from their home city, but the Rattlers might have had an inside ace in getting the big centre – that being forward Benlevi having signed with the Rattlers earlier.
“I was talking to a couple of teams,” said Tshimanga, adding when he learned Benlevi was heading to Saskatchewan it made his final decision easy. “I knew where I was headed.”
Having Benlevi on the Rattlers should create some immediate chemistry with Tshimanga as the two have played together in college.
“We’ve already got that going,” said Tshimanga.
According to a Rattler press release, “prior to his time in the NCAA, Tshimanga played for MacDuffie High School in Granby, Massachusetts for three seasons. In his senior year (2015-16), he averaged 18.3 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game which earned him offers from 14 different NCAA Division 1 programs, while being ranked third-best prospect in the state of Massachusetts by ESPN.com
“Tshimanga accepted an offer from Nebraska (2016-17), beginning his collegiate career with 5.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 12.5 minutes in 31 games and earning the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
“As a sophomore (2017-18), Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 13.6 minutes in 31 games.
“In the 2018-19 season, he transferred to Dayton University. During his senior year, Tshimanga averaged 6.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 22.0 minutes in 23 games. He was named 2021 Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team, University of Dayton’s John L. Macbeth Memorial Scholar Athletic Award, and co-winner of Steve McElvene Best Defender on the team. During his senior year, Tshimanga was fifth in the NCAA Atlantic 10 for rebounding per game.”
Starting his professional career, Tshimanga entered the NBA G League in 2021 with Cleveland Charge where he played four games averaging 3.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 12.5 minutes in 2021. Cleveland Charge traded Tshimanga to the Iowa Wolves. He finished the 2021-22 season with the Iowa averaging 6.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 17.3 minutes in 38 games. During this season, he grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds on January 16th and a career-high 4 blocks on March 23rd. He helped secure the Wolves in top 5 rebounding totals in the league, with a team-high 186 total rebounds.
“Jordy was a top target for us from the outset when putting our roster together.” said Rattlers Assistant Coach Tanner Massey in the release. “He is a tough, physical big who imposes his will inside and can finish with either hand. Jordy proved to be one of the best rebounders in the G League this season as well. He will be a force for us on both sides of the ball.”
So what is Tshimanga expecting with the Rattlers?
At this point it’s wait and see, having only touched base with his new coaches via phone.
“We’ve spoken briefly when I was getting to know the team,” he said.
Certainly fans will be looking for a better year given the Rattlers struggled in 2021 with only one win in 14 games, but Tshimanga said he won’t be feeling any added pressure due to the dismal record.
“Every season, every year, each and every day is different,” he said, adding he can’t feel pressure for how the team did when he wasn’t even on the roster.
“It’s new group of guys, new coaches, we just all have to come together,” he said. “. . . I just want to get over there and meet everybody and get going.”