Hello readers! Prince here. Usually, I run an opinion piece series named “Princes’ Thoughts” where I discuss my opinions on the NBA. However, with the CEBL ready to start its inaugural season on May 10th I decided to reach out to the Edmonton Stingers to get a more in-depth look of some of the players on the roster. I was able to meet up with Brody Clarke, a current Golden Bears Forward who will be playing for the Stingers this summer. Brody was drafted as a USPORTS player, and I asked him his thoughts on the CEBL and the Stingers to get to know him a little better.

How excited are you about the CEBL?

It’s awesome and is a unique opportunity to have. If you look back 5 years ago, university players such as Jordan Baker did not have the opportunity to play on a professional level and hone their skills over the summer between school years. I’m excited to play in the league and learn a trick or two to bring back to my final season with the Golden Bears.

What is USPORTS and how important is the partnership between them and the CEBL?

USPORTS is the governing body of athletics for university sports. To my understanding, the partnership allows university athletes to remain apart of their university teams and sign a development deal to play in the CEBL. For myself and Narcisse Ambanza, it allows us to return back to our university season while playing basketball in the summer to hone our skills. I would be practising anyway over the summer and this gives me the opportunity to train on a professional level.

You have been named USPORTS All – Canadian for the third time in your career. Explain how that feels and how that is a testament to your work ethic.

That was a goal of mine of when I first came into the program. I think it’s cool being able to go to nationals and be recognized on that sort of stage especially with the company I play with. It’s special but also bittersweet as we came up short on the championship. Personal accolades are special but winning the big one is something that I strive for and I still have one year to accomplish that.

How does Brody Clarke prepare on gameday?

I like a routine a lot. Gamedays are the same for me every single time, whether it’s a home game or on the road. I typically like to get some decent sleep, have a big breakfast and then go to the shootaround or whatever it may be and come home. When I come home I usually spend an hour or so and do some schoolwork to get my mind off the game. That’s followed a by a nice pre-game meal, usually 4 hours before the game and I usually cook up some pasta. Then I take a nap and hit the gym 2 hours prior to the game. I save basketball for when it’s game time. You’re spending 45 minutes or so with the coach, so I just go out there and play hard and be a sponge and absorb everything I can.

Why pasta?

People are straying from carbs, but I always understood carb – loading as a thing so that’s what I do.

What kind of pasta? Is it the same every time?

Yeah, usually penne with meat sauce, that’s my go-to pasta. Home games I will cook it up myself but on road games we will usually stop at a Boston Pizza or something and I get my penne with meat sauce there.

Barnaby Craddock is the head coach of the Stingers and is the current coach for the Golden Bears as well. Jordan Baker is a teammate of yours on the Stingers but also is the assistant coach of the Golden Bears. Mamadou Gueye is also a teammate of yours on the Stingers and is a former Golden Bears player. Do you think this will help with team chemistry and help you feel more comfortable playing for the Stingers?

Edmonton Sun

For sure, I think it’s going to make the transition a lot smoother because I already know some of the guys that I’m going to be playing with. I’m the young guy so it helps me out and I will be trying to learn as much as I can. I played with Mamadou for the past three years prior to this one so I have a pretty good relationship with him so there’s some good chemistry there. Obviously, I have a lot of trust and confidence playing for Coach Craddock, so I think that will bode well for me. I would attribute a large part of my development as a basketball player over the past two years to the relationship I have built with Jordan Baker. The guy is a total stud. I have never met someone who works as hard as him and who loves the game of basketball as much as him. He is in the gym every single day and has a work ethic that I’ve never seen before. Everybody knows each other in some regard so I think the transition will be smooth overall and the chemistry should be good.

Describe Coach Craddock’s coaching style and how he will implement it with the Stingers?

At the UofA, we like to run the transition as much as we can and shoot a lot of threes. We got a lot of nice sets to get players in position to score depending on positional matchups. Coach Craddock likes to get fired up and he’s animated on the sidelines and extremely positive in huddles and is really hands – on so that’s something that I really look forward to. I look forward to the transition to professional basketball and given the high playing level of the talent in the league, I think it’s going to make for some exciting basketball and everyone is excited to be a part of it.

NBA Canada has recently announced record viewership in the country. Do you think that the CEBL will add to the growth of Canadian Basketball?

It’s a testament to the growth of Canadian Basketball overall. Growing up in Toronto, the Raptors were introduced as a part of the NBA and Canadian Basketball has been on the rise ever since. For me as a little kid, that was the team that I looked up to and was a big Vince Carter fan and then Chris Bosh. Now that the Raptors have been in the league for so long and playing as well as they have been playing, the viewership is going up. Overall Canadian Basketball is growing as there are many Canadian players in the NBA and the NCAA playing on national television giving Canadian Basketball major exposure. I think by adding the CEBL to the mix, Canadian Basketball will further grow giving fans the option to watch basketball during the summer which is usually the offseason for the NBA. I think it’s important for the little kids growing up in the Edmonton area or wherever it may be to see professional basketball players play in their hometown and inspire them.

Who’s your biggest role model?

My dad. He was a member of the senior men’s national team for about 8 to 10 years and was part of the Olympics in Korea in 1988. He’s basically been my coach my whole life, so from a basketball perspective I’ve looked up to him my entire career. Even as a person he’s a great guy and gives a lot back to his community, he’s a teacher and impacts his students every day so he’s someone I strive to be like every single day. The three biggest days in my household are the NBA All-Star Game, the NBA Finals, and the NCAA Finals so it’s an interesting dynamic to grow up in.

Who’s your favourite NBA player of all time?

That’s a tough one, but I would have to say Dwyane Wade. The first time I watched a playoff game was in 2003. I saw the Heat against the Hornets and Wade against Baron Davis and ever since then, I’ve loved Dwyane Wade. Throughout the ups and downs of his career he’s been a good role model and not even just from a basketball perspective but on a personal level as he’s a great guy off the court and definitely my favourite player.

What are you looking forward to with your first season as a Stinger?

Personally, I just want to be a sponge and soak up as much as I can and learn from the players I have the privilege to play with throughout the summer. It’s a great opportunity for me to grow as a basketball player and bring back what I can to my final season with the Golden Bears. As a Stinger, I want to see how many games we can win given the highly competitive nature of the league. The Stingers organization have put the pieces together for a great basketball team from the players to the coaching and the management, so I think the Stingers will be a force to be reckoned with and hopefully, we can make some noise and have fun while doing so.

What’s the biggest asset you bring to the Stingers?

My youth. I think going in a lot of people do not expect me to be a huge contributor, so I look forward to contributing in any way needed. I’m not coming in with big expectations but I’m coming in with big eyes and help in any way whether it’s defensively, offensively or on the glass. Whatever my role may be, I will come in like a sponge and learn as much as I can from teammates and my competition.

What are your long – term goals?

I’ve had numerous conversations with my coaches and family that I want to pursue professional basketball. There are a lot of factors that I haven’t considered as the Golden Bears have been the centre of my world and will be for another season, but I have to figure things out academically and this will be an ongoing conversation for the next year and see what the best choice for myself is. I am lucky enough to have a dad and coach who have been through this process and they will support me on whatever endeavour I take on. For now, my focus is on the summer and the Stingers and then returning to the Golden Bears for my final season.

If not basketball, what sport would you have played or a sport that intrigues you?

I stopped playing all other sports in grade 8 and it was basketball only. I really enjoy watching tennis even though I never really played. Tennis requires a different kind of athleticism. Basketball is a fluid sport as there is a lot of back and forth involved and it’s a game that’s very lateral with a lot of jumping involved.  In tennis, you’re on the opposite side of your opponent with a net in the middle so it’s not a contact sport and you’re consistently moving side to side and you have to have an absurd reaction time. I think it’s really cool and not saying that I would be any good at it, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot.

What made you move to Edmonton?

High school basketball was very political in Toronto, so I knew that I wanted to get away from that. I know I wanted to stay in Canada and I looked at several options and decided to go with Edmonton and applied to the UofA. I knew Coach Craddock from before being involved in the Canadian basketball scene, so I figured it would be a good fit. I’d visited in May and there was snow on the ground, so I was like was this the right decision?

But it snows out east too.

(laughs), not in May! But I’m glad I’m here, it’s a quieter city, I appreciate it and it’s a better sports city than I thought it would be. I have a greater appreciation for Toronto now and maybe I will go back there one day but for now, Edmonton is home.

Are you worried about any injuries playing basketball all year round?

Not really. Usually, in the summer I would be playing pickup games two days of the week, train with Jordan Baker for another 2 days and hit the gym for the rest of the week. I keep myself busy and this summer I have the opportunity to play in a more structured sense for the Stingers so that should be good for me. I’ve also got the privilege of having Coach Craddock as my coach all year round so that continuity will help me as he will look after me and assess any injuries that might arise from the schedule.

I know you’re looking for a championship with the Golden Bears but how about a championship with the Stingers?

That would be pretty cool. I know the season goes on until the end of August and that cuts it close to my season with the Golden Bears, so I don’t know what to expect but that would be cool.  I think I gain a lot from playing for the Stingers, whether we win or not, but I know everybody will have the drive to win a championship and the summer will be full of new experiences for myself.

Any final comments?

I hope we can get as many fans out as we can for the home games. I’ve never played in the Expo Centre so that will be cool. I know they are going to set it up pretty nice, so I look forward to playing the season. I just hope it has a positive impact on the sport and gets as many kids out as we can as they are off school and if we can achieve that we are all winners in my eyes.

The Stingers will be ready for tip-off on May 10th. The WCSN will be your home for coverage of the Stingers season and as usual, make sure to follow me on Twitter @thisisgillie for more basketball and Stingers news. Until next time, thank you for reading!

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Edmonton Stingers Player Profile: Brody Clarke
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