November 3, 2011

Feeling a Draft in Canton

On Thursday night, the hoops fans who filled the Edgewood Community Center – and those who followed on-line – for the Canton Charge’s inaugural Draft didn’t know many of the names that were announced. But with some success in central Stark County, they might soon.

The Charge’s first-ever selection – Tyrell Biggs, taken with the 15th pick in the first round – was one player that fans got to know right away. The 6-8, 250-pounder from Pitt was on hand for the festivities in Canton.

“I played two years overseas, in Greece, Cyprus and Israel,” beamed Biggs. “I thought that coming to the D-League was just …a great opportunity to get to the NBA.”

Biggs – who first-year head coach Alex Jensen affirmed was “on the path” that Jensen was on after leaving college. On his way back to Stateside basketball, Biggs played 13 games with Achilleas Kaimakliou of the Cypress League and averaged 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. In nine games in the Israeli Premier League, he averaged 4.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game.

“He’s played at Pittsburgh at a very high level in the Big East,” praised Jensen. “He played for a great coach and that’s always refreshing, because you know he’s been coached. And he played two summers for the Bulls in the Summer League.

“He’s an experienced, older player. He kind of reminds me of myself; he’s on that path. And hopefully, Canton will be the catalyst for something good for him.”

With their second selection – the 49th overall pick – the Charge tabbed guard T.J. Campbell from Portland.

In two years at Portland, Campbell averaged 12.4 points and 5.2 assists per game. The 5-9, 190-pound Campbell spent last season playing in both Australia and Turkey.

“On our list, we didn’t think he’d fall as far as he did,” said Jensen. “He’s short, but he’s very athletic and he’s a great shooter. He’s a really tough guy.”

The Charge selected swingman Tyrone Kent from the University of Toledo in the fifth round, forward Travis Franklin of Colorado State in the sixth and guard Harry Marshall of Indiana State in round six. Rounding out their evening, Canton chose forward Jonathan Blake from Texas Wesleyan in the eighth and final round.

Kent was a four-year player with Toledo and, like Jensen and Tyrell Biggs, took “the path” that led him overseas – spending the last two seasons playing in France and Cyprus.

Aside from the Charge’s top pick, the Charge’s new brain trust was also joined by their inaugural player, Canton native Keith McLeod.

In just over a week, Training Camp tips off in Canton. And now Coach Jensen has a full squad to work with.

“We accomplished almost everything that we spent the last several weeks setting up,“ affirmed the first-year coach. “And it was good to have Keith here, too. We got to show him the facility, the courts, the locker room.”

After some blood, sweat and tears on the practice court, Canton’s new squad – draft picks and all – take the floor in just over three weeks against the Iowa Energy in the home opener.