Davis, Lewis aiming to add to Surge's search for CEBL championship

Fresh talent finding ways to fit in with Calgary’s professional basketball squad

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The fresh faces of the Calgary Surge know they have a lot to live up to.

The lot of them are coming into the situation where it’s pretty much championship or bust after last year’s first-year success for the club in the Canadian Elite Basketball League.

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There’s a high bar set here already.

“Got to get back to the final — that’s the standard,” said Justin Lewis, one of 11 new talents on the team. “And I know it’s a competitive league — a tough league.”

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“Nothing less than a championship, honestly,” agreed Corey Davis Jr., another fresh — and one-to-watch — face on the Surge. “You have to come in with that mindset. Those guys accomplished a lot last year, so I want to add to that.”

That’s music to the ears of the three veterans returning the team — Stef Smith, Justin Jackson and Sean Miller-Moore — who are still smarting from last summer’s 82-70 championship-finale loss to the Scarborough Shooting Stars.

In fact, it’s the Shooting Stars (0-2) who visit Calgary on Wednesday to face the Surge (0-1) at WinSport Event Centre (7 p.m., TSN3).

The contest in a return back to the cozy confines of WinSport marks the Surge’s second home game after last week’s home-opening loss to the Edmonton Stingers — 97-79 — in the Surge 2 The Dome gala event that saw some 12,000 fans electrify Scotiabank Saddledome for the team’s second-season starter.

Later this week, the Surge head out on the road for the first time this season, playing the host Vancouver Bandits late Saturday in Langley, B.C. (8:30 p.m.).

And that’ll mean more bonding time for a team with so many new personalities.

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“Still a lot to intake — first time in Canada,” Lewis said. “But my teammates are helping me get adjusted to the league and to the city.

“I’m familiar with Justin Jackson — he’s from (the University of Maryland).”

That’s close to where Baltimore native Lewis grew up, idolizing Carmelo Anthony — a hall-of-famer-in-waiting after a spectacular 19-year career in the NBA.

“Just him being from my city — the way he played the game — made me like him,” said Lewis, himself a product of the NCAA’s Marquette Golden Eagles. “Carmelo’s a top-75 hall-of-famer. So he’s pretty great.

“Maryland’s actually pretty tough. A lot of basketball talent comes from there. That’s where I feel I got my toughness — from the inner city in Baltimore.”

Justin Lewis
Marquette forward Justin Lewis drives to the basket against Xavier forward Jerome Hunter in Milwaukee on Jan. 23, 2022. Photo by Aaron Gash /The Associated Press

Lewis has the chops to play at both ends of the floor, making him attractive to the Surge when they went looking to fill the roster in a transactionally busy off-season.

“I’m very versatile and aggressive,” said Lewis, adding he brings competitiveness, a little bit of experience and toughness to the team. “You’ll see all of that at both ends of floor.”

Surge fans already got a taste in the opener, as forward Lewis poured in 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds — both team highs — in nearly 32 minutes of action.

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But no Surge player was on the floor more at the Dome than guard Davis, who was on for 33-plus minutes, delivering a team-best 10 assists in his debut.

“It’s my first year here, but I have a lot of good friends who have played in the CEBL — guys like (former Hamilton Honey Badgers star) Brianté Weber,” Davis said. “They’re guys that I know and have played with overseas. They’ve told me a lot of great things about this league.”

Davis, a native of Lafayette, La., isn’t the biggest guy — at just 6-foot-1 — but, by all accounts, he plays a big game, especially on his own end of the floor.

“Yeah … I’m a defensive guy,” Davis said. “I’m very unselfish when it comes to being on the offensive side of the ball. But I love just how focused I am on my defence. I know how important it is. It’s just something that I’ve loved and grown to do. It’s something that actually has gotten me as far as I am today, to be honest.

“My strongest suits, for sure, are my aggression, leadership, my heart for the game and my passion that I play with,” continued Davis. “I think a lot of those things play a big factor in any league you play in — you have to have those intangibles to play this game.”

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And he’s liking what he sees around him in his early days with the Surge.

“You can tell guys are locked in and understanding the defensive schemes,” added Davis. “I’ve learned a lot about the coach (Tyrell Vernon). I automatically knew I was coming into not only a good environment but a place I can be myself.

“To come in here and be the person you are and adding on to the value of this team is a situation every new guy wants to be in.”

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  • G Corey Davis Jr., 6-foot-1, Lafayette, La.
  • G Mike Demagus, 6-foot-4, Scarborough, Ont.
  • G Malcolm Duvivier, 6-foot-2, Toronto
  • G Gatluak James, 6-foot-5, Windsor, Ont.
  • G Mathieu Kemba, 6-foot-5, Calgary
  • G Dondre Reddick, 6-foot-3, Antigonish, N.S.
  • G Noah Wharton, 6-foot-0, Brampton, Ont.
  • F Troy Baxter Jr., 6-foot-9, Tallahassee, Fla.
  • F Matt Grace, 6-foot-9, Hamilton
  • F Justin Lewis, 6-foot-7, Towson, Md.
  • F Gabe Osabuohien, 6-foot-8, Toronto

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