Surrey Sukhman Sandhu is excited about his basketball future with a pro team based in Langley.
The Fraser Valley Bandits selected former high school graduate Tamanawis in the U SPORTS Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) draft on Tuesday, April 19, with the team’s fourth pick in the second round.
Sandhu, 25, is coming off the best season of his U SPORTS career with UBC, having played his previous three years at the University of the Fraser Valley, from 2016-2019.
With UBC Thunderbirds, the 6-foot-10 forward’s shooting from distance put him first in three-point percentage in all of Canada among players with a minimum of 50 attempts. He averaged 16.2 points and 7.1 rebounds on 30-of-60 shooting from three-point territory in just 23.3 minutes played per game.
Starting this spring, he is looking to play for the Bandits at the team’s home arena, the Langley Events Centre. He has signed a rookie contract with the westernmost club in the professional league, but is yet to make the 10-man roster.
“There will be a training camp, and I will take every opportunity I can to improve and train,” Sandhu said Thursday (April 21).
Ahead of the CEBL draft, Bandits president Dylan Kular contacted Sandhu to see if he would be interested in playing for the Langley-based team.
“Obviously I was and I am,” Sandhu said. “Having a professional league here in Canada with a local team, I’m very excited about it and super interested. We talked from there and here we are. There are a lot of things in the league, I think. Some of these guys have careers that I just hope to have professionally, so having the experience there and being around these professionals will be very beneficial to me moving forward.
On Thursday (April 21), the Bandits announced the re-signing of another Surrey-raised player, Adam Paige, currently with the Alberta Golden Bears. The 2022 CEBL season will be Paige’s second with the Bandits, who drafted her ninth overall in 2021.
In Tuesday’s draft, the Bandits also selected 6-foot-9 forward Thomas Kennedy of the University of Windsor with the seventh first-round pick.
Sandhu and Kennedy “have proven themselves to be two of the most talented college or university players in Canada,” Kular said in a press release, “and I look forward to seeing them develop and showcase their talents this summer.” .
Kular said he views the CEBL U SPORTS Draft as “an important opportunity for us to identify emerging players and we are committed to providing student-athletes with a rewarding experience before they return to school or start the next chapter of their young professional career”.
— UBC Thunderbirds (@ubctbirds) April 19, 2022
The Bandits arena is familiar to Sandhu, whose Tamanawis Wildcats placed third at the BC High School Basketball Championships played at the Langley Events Center in 2014.
“With the provincial championships held there, basketball is becoming more rooted in the community and we are building a culture of developing talented players to the next level,” noted Sandhu. “I hope the locals come to see and celebrate this. Me being one of the local guys on the team, it’s exciting.
Previously based in Abbotsford, the Fraser Valley Bandits begin their fourth CEBL season on the road on Wednesday, May 25 against the Ottawa BlackJacks. After a three-game road tour, the Bandits will make their LEC debut against the Saskatchewan Rattlers on Saturday, June 4 at 2 p.m. For schedule and tickets, visit thebandits.ca/tickets or call 604-866-0529.
At UBC, Sandhu studied psychology and he would eventually embark on a career in that field.
“Spirit and demeanor is something that really interests me, something that I find engaging for me,” the Newton resident explained. “I would like to link psychology and sport and find a career path there, just the motivation and the behaviors and the fears, everything that goes into that side of mental preparation is such a big part of being an athlete. It’s something I’d like to do for a career after basketball.
basketballLangley Events CentreSurrey