The Fraser Valley Bandits have signed former SMU Huskies star Joey Haywood. (SMU Athletics photo)

The Fraser Valley Bandits have signed former SMU Huskies star Joey Haywood. (SMU Athletics photo)

Fraser Valley Bandits sign ‘Canada’s best streetballer’

Former SMU Huskies star Joey Haywood inks deal with Fraser Valley Bandits

One of Canada’s biggest online basketball presences has signed on the dotted line with the Fraser Valley Bandits for 2020.

Joey Haywood, aka: @TheKingHandles on Instagram and YouTube, made it official today (April 1) and brings his skills and tremendous social media reach to the Bandits.

Haywood, labelled as ‘Canada’s Best Streetballer’ by Vice, has transformed his ball handling skills into an online sensation. He’s amassed over 160,000 followers on Instagram and over 10,000 subscribers on YouTube showcasing his talents.

He was also a member of the Vancouver streetball group known as ‘The Notic,’ which garnered acclaim and an underground following for its mix tapes and appearances at streetball exhibition games. Haywood has since toured the globe as a streetballer, playing in tournaments across Asia.

But, it’s not just his streetball exploits that attracted the attention of the Bandits. Prior to his online fame, Haywood was a star basketball player at Vancouver’s Magee Secondary and suited up for both the Langara Falcons and the St. Mary’s University Huskies, the latter team was where he emerged as a strong player.

Haywood solidified himself as one of the greatest players in the Halifax-based school’s history over the course of his three seasons at St. Mary’s by posting averages of 24.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game on 52.6 and 41 per cent shooting from field goal and three-point range, respectively. Haywood’s 28.8 points per game in his final season at St. Mary’s ranked him first in scoring across the entire CIS.

Haywood was recognized as a first team AUS All-Star in each of his three seasons with the Huskies, and was named a second team CIS All-Canadian in 2009-10 prior to being honoured as a first team All-Canadian and winning the Frank Baldwin Memorial Trophy as the Atlantic University Sport conference’s most valuable player for the 2010-11 season.

After graduating, Haywood began his professional career with the Halifax Rainmen of the National Basketball League of Canada where his game translated seamlessly to the professional level. Over four seasons with the Rainmen, Haywood twice won Canadian player of the year and received nods as both a league all-star and all-defensive team member as well.

“I want to thank the Bandits staff and [Bandits head] coach [Kyle] Julius for giving me the opportunity to play professional basketball again,” Haywood stated. “I’m excited to work with a group that will work, think and play as a family and for the opportunity to help grow the game in the Lower Mainland.”

Haywood played for Julius as a member of the 3D Global Sports Canada team that won the 39th William Jones Cup Championship in 2017. Haywood averaged 8.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

“Joey is a special person and a very special player. His positive attitude is infectious and his professionalism will enhance our team culture,” Julius stated. “Joey has a unique skill set on the court. He is tenacious on both sides of the ball and his ability to generate offence quickly will allow us to play with some unique lineups and hopefully create some havoc in the process. Joey and I won a major world tournament a few years back and I have wanted to work with him ever since.”

The Bandits are set to begin their second season in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) this upcoming summer.

RELATED: Fraser Valley Bandits draft trio of UFV basketball talents