Abbotsford – The Fraser Valley Bandits have announced the signing of Joel Friesen, the first overall draft selection in the inaugural Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) Entry Draft.
Friesen, a six-foot-five guard from Abbotsford, averaged 12.4 points per game this past regular season for the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans of the NBLC. Friesen maintained impressive shooting percentages of 45.9% from the field, 40.6% from three-point range, and 88.6% 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. 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,” Friesen said. “Basketball is a powerful platform, and I intend to use it to champion a lasting legacy in British Columbia and beyond.”
Friesen’s roots run deep in the Fraser Valley. Friesen was a key cog in the Yale Lions’ 3A senior boys title winning team in 2008 and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Friesen then 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 as an important member of 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. The Bandits open their inaugural season Thursday, May 9 at 7 p.m. against the Guelph Nighthawks. Modelled after top international professional leagues, the CEBL is comprised of teams in the Fraser Valley (Abbotsford), Hamilton, Edmonton, Guelph, Niagara (St. Catharines), and Saskatchewan (Saskatoon). CEBL teams will play a 20-game regular season from May 9 to August 15, culminating with a league championship playoff at a site to be announced.