Montreal Jazz Season Preview

Montreal Jaxx

Last season (As Quebec Kebs) - 22-14, lost to Halifax Rainmen in Semis (1-2). 
For basketball fans in the province of Quebec, this NBL Canada offseason can be described best by the old saying “When one door closes, another one opens”. Last season the Kebs played out of Quebec City and were coached by Rob Spon. With the help of All-Star guard Ralphy Holmes, Spon led the Kebs to 3rd in the NBL Canada standings and a competitive semi-final series against the Halifax Rainmen which they lost in 3 games. In June, the Kebs announced that after six seasons in Quebec City the team would be moving to Laval for the upcoming NBLC season. Signs of trouble for the Kebs franchise were first evident at the NBLC Draft in August, as Coach Spon did not represent the Kebs, who traded their first and second round draft picks for cash considerations. In September the Kebs made efforts to acquire NBLC All-Star guards Taliek Brown and Eddie Smith, but never reached an agreement to sign these players. On October 16th, Frank Mart reported that the NBL Canada had taken control of the Kebs and that Rob Spon was no longer the head coach. On October 26th, one week before the NBLC season begins, League President Andre Levingston announced that the Kebs franchise would be folding, and a new franchise based out of Montreal would join the NBL Canada. On November 1st the NBLC announced that the team would be called the Le Jazz de Montreal (Montreal Jazz) and will play out of the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau. The Head Coach will be Alejandro Hasbani from Argentina, who was the Head Coach of the Montreal Sasquatch in the PBL and Assistant Coach with the Montreal Matrix in the ABA.

The Jazz will be led by the sole returning Keb- 6’8 All-Star Canadian forward Ricky Volcy, a talented scorer from inside and out, and good rebounder who averaged 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Kebs last season. The only other player on the Jazz roster with NBLC experience is centre Sami Ibrahim who played 6 games as a backup centre with the Mill Rats last season.

In September, the Kebs announced that they signed Xavier Delarue, a 6’6 forward from France. While the Jazz will hope that the Frenchman can bring some veteran experience to their roster, it seems that in recent years the 35 year old Delarue has been more famous in France for his appearances on reality television than his performance on the court.

The rest of the roster seems to be filled with some of the most notable players Montreal has produced onto the basketball scene. Forwards Juan Mendez and Sheray Thomas had successful NCAA careers with Division I Universities Niagara and Kentucky and both have experience playing with the Canadian National Team. Forward LP Levros was drafted in the 2008 NBA D-League Draft and has played professionally for past Montreal franchises in the PBL and ABA as well as around the world. Centre Terance Licorish was a recent cut from Moncton Miracles training camp, but was the 10th overall pick in the 2012 NBL Canada Draft and also has Divison I experience at Mississippi State. Point guard Damian Buckley was one of the best players in the CIS over his four years at Concordia and was twice named All-Canadian and guards Yul Michel and Manix Auriantal both have experience playing professionally in Quebec in the PBL and ABA respectively.

It will be interesting to see what this mostly Quebecois group of players can do in Montreal, and while it is unfortunate that the Kebs organization couldn’t survive, Montreal could potentially be a great city for professional basketball and help expand the NBL Canada.

Projected Depth Chart (as of November 1st)
PG: Damian Buckley, Yul Michel, Marc Daniel Renelique
SG: Manix Auriantal, Xavier Delarue
SF: Ricky Volcy, Louis-Patrick Levros
PF: Juan Mendez, Sheray Thomas
C: Terance Licorish, Sami Ibrahim

 Manix Auriantal G- 6’2, 32 years old, New York Institute of Technology
Was an ABA all-star with the Montreal Matrix in 2006. Has also played professionally in Morocco, Norway, Hungary , Slovenia and the ABA. From Montreal.
 Damian Buckley G- 6’1, 28 years old, Concordia University
Played four seasons (2005-09) at Concordia averaging 17.2 points over 115 games and was named to All QSSF First Team all four years.  In 2008-09 was named to All-Canadian First Team. Was named 2008-09 QSSF Player of the Year. In 2007-08 was named Second Team CIS All-Canadian and averaged 20.9 points, 5.8 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. Also played Quarterback for the Concordia football team. From Montreal.
Xavier Delarue SG/SF- 6’6, 35 years old, Basketball Club Niortais
Played 2010-11 Season with Clermont in French Second League (ProB) averaging 5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. Won a championship with Besancon (ProB) in 2008.
Sani Ibrahim C- 6’10 28 years old, Gulf Coast Community College
Played 6 games with the Saint John Mill Rats last season, averaging 4.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1 assist per game. Played Sophomore season (2003-04) at Gulf Coast CC averaging 17.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 25 games. Was a teammate of Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony at Oak Hill Academy High School from 2000-02. Has also played professionally in Israel, Hungary, Poland and the PBL. From Nigeria.
 Louis-Patrick Levros F- 6’6, 29 years old, Rhode Island Community College.
Played two seasons (2003-05) at Rhode Island CC. Averaged 15 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game his Senior season (2004-05). Drafted by the Idaho Stampede in the 9th round of the 2008 NBA D-League Draft. Has also played professionally in Morocco, Mexico, the ABA and PBL. From Laval.
 Terance Licorish C- 6’9, 29 years old, McMaster University
Drafted 10th overall in 2012 NBL Canada Draft by Moncton Miracles. Played one season (2007-08) with McMaster, averaging 13.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.1 blocks over 14 games. Played 2005-06 season with Mississippi State University. From Montreal.
 Juan Mendez PF- 6’8, 31 years old, Niagra University
Played four years (2001-05) at Niagara University, averaging 18 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1 steal, 1.4 blocks and shooting 53% from the field over 123 games. Averaged 23.5 points (3rd in NCAA), 10.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.1 blocks his Senior season (2004-05) and was named MAAC Player of the Year and All-America Honorable Mention. Is the all-time leading Canadian scorer in NCAA history. Played for Canadian National Team in 2005 and 2007 FIBA Americas Championships. Has also played professionally in Dominican Republic, China, Israel and Greece. From Montreal.
 Yul Michel G- 6’2, 31 years old, Brandon University
Played with the Quebec Kebs in the PBL in 2009 and 2010. Played four seasons (2004-08) at Brandon University. Averaged 14.9 points, 5.1 assists, 4 rebounds and 1.7 steals over 21 games his Senior season and was named CIS Defensive Player of the Year. From Montreal.
 Marc Daniel Renelique PG- 6’2, 28 years old, Northern Michigan University. 
Averaged 24.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals last season with Raja Club (Morocco). Played two seasons (2008-10) at Northern Michigan, appearing in 51 games. Averaged 17.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 24 games his Senior season (2009-10) and was selected to First Team All-GLIAC. Also played professionally in Morocco and Kuwait. From Montreal.
 Sheray Thomas F- 6’8, 28 years old, University of Kentucky
Played four years at Kentucky (2003-07) averaging 2.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.7 assists in 117 games. Averaged 4.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in 35 games his Junior season (2005-06). Played for Team Canada in the 2007 Pan American Games. Has also played professionally in Switzerland. From Montreal.
 Ricky Volcy PF- 6’8, 30 years old, Northern Michigan University
Averaged 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.9 blocks for the Quebec Kebs last season and played in NBL Canada All-Star Game. Played four seasons (2003-07) at Northern Michigan, named three times to the All-GLIAC North First Team. Averaged 22.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 1.9 steals per game in Senior season (2006-07) and was named 2006-07 GLIAC Player of the Year and NCAA Division II All-American. Has also played professionally in Hungary, Switzerland and France. From Montreal.

Allan April is a university student and basketball fanatic from
Halifax. A proud member of Celtics Nation and also works as a
statistician for the Halifax Rainmen. Follow him @RainmenTweets