Friesen signs with NBL Canada’s Niagara River Lions

Abbotsford basketball product inks first professional contract

Yale Secondary grad and former UFV Cascade star Joel Friesen rises up for a shot with the University of Alberta. Friesen recently signed a new deal with the Niagara River Lions of the NBL Canada.

By Ben Lypka, Abbotsford News

The basketball journey for Yale Secondary grad Joel Friesen is moving to the next level he’s now officially a professional.

Friesen signed with the brand new Niagara River Lions of the National Basketball League of Canada and jump-starts his pro career this December.

He said he’s excited about joining the team and feels blessed for the chance to do what he loves in his home country.

“As a young player you always think about going pro, but you think you have to go overseas,” he said. “To be able to stay in Canada is a blessing. I’m proud to stay here and continue to play ball and make my dream come true.”

Friesen has a storied basketball history in the Fraser Valley. He played his Grade 10 ball with Robert Batemen Secondary but then transferred to Yale in Grade 11. Yale won AAA provincials in his Grade 12 season back in 2008 and Friesen was named most valuable player of the tournament.

After heavy recruitment from several Western Canadian CIS teams and a few American schools, Friesen decided to stay close to home and joined the then-UCFV Cascades. He enjoyed success with the Cascades but his shining moment was a memorable buzzer-beater back on Feb. 25, 2012.

With the Cascades down 68-66 to the Lethbridge Pronghorns and only seconds remaining, Friesen connected on a three-point shot that won the game 69-68 and sent the UFV men’s team to the Canada West Final Four for the first time in the history of the school.

“It was absolutely a career highlight,” he said. “That buzzer-beater is pretty irreplaceable. I still get butterflies from watching it on YouTube I bet half the views on that video are mine.”

Friesen was named a Canada West first team all-star in 2011-12, but then followed UFV coach Barnaby Craddock to Edmonton and the University of Alberta. He won a Canada West championship in 2013 with U of A.

He finished up his athletic eligibility this past spring, and after receiving offers from teams in Japan, Germany and Norway, chose to remain in Canada. Friesen, who now lives in Edmonton, said he’s willing to do whatever his Niagara coaches ask of him.

“I can play wherever I’m needed,” he said. “I was a combo guard my whole career and can do whatever it takes to help fill in the gaps. I like to be considered a glue guy and a leader. If they need me to score I will, and if they need me to guard the other team’s best player I can do that, too.”

The 25-year-old hopes to have another five or six years of basketball in him and is open to exploring basketball options outside of North America in the coming years.

Training camp for the Lions starts on Dec. 1, with the regular season tipping off later that month.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Man sentenced for setting apartment barbecue on fire in Abbotsford

Michael Rodden climbed to second-storey balcony in March 2019

How do you hold a public hearing when public gatherings are banned?

City of Abbotsford discussing how to hold hearings with appropriate social distancing

Abbotsford golf courses remain open during COVID-19 pandemic

Ledgeview, Fraserglen and Valley Golf institute safety policies to fight coronavirus

120 more recreation staff laid off by City of Abbotsford

Job cuts from closure of public facilities, city will re-hire after health emergency passes

400 people assessed for COVID-19 at Abbotsford centre

Website and centre have been running for over a week

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

BC Hockey, Vancouver Canucks encourage stick tapping to honour frontline health care workers

Families are encouraged to video themselves tapping their sticks at 7 p.m. and post to social media

Most Read