Nicholas Carino, a.k.a. OVO Niko, loves Scarborough a lot. So much so, in fact, that the longtime Drake affiliate is bringing the Toronto borough its very own basketball club. Niko has teamed up with Sam Ibrahim to launch the Scarborough Shooting Stars, a new expansion franchise in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). It’s the league’s first team in the Greater Toronto Area.
The team will hit the courts in 2022 when the season opens next May.
“I was born and raised in Scarborough. It’s a big, big thing for me to do it here. It’s a dream come true,” Niko tells Complex. The 36-year-old, who is one of the co-founders of Drake’s fashion and lifestyle brand OVO, grew up in the Sheppard and McCowan area.
“I love the idea of it being in the summertime. I think that was the major thing for me because I didn’t want it to compete with the Raptors, Euro League, FIBA.”
Ibrahim is one of the founding members of Playground Global, the largest privately owned basketball complex in the world, boasting training facilities and recreational courts across the GTA.
“Scarborough is a basketball hotbed that has produced some of Canada’s very best players. When the new team hits the court in 2022 it will bring an elevated passion and love for the game, the Scarborough community, and for the next generation of CEBL stars,” says Mike Morreale, CEO and Commissioner of the CEBL.
The new franchise aims to create immediate jobs and career pathways for young people trying to follow their passions and also give them more opportunities to improve their game.
“It’s the inspiration that allows the youth to dream bigger. Dream for the stars, shoot for the stars, or whatever the case may be. I think that’s my main thing for the youth: to inspire and to create different opportunities [for them],” Niko explains of the team’s name.
“Initiatives like this, you know, all year long just creating different opportunities and different paths. I used to be that 16-year-old kid that used to dream big like this. I think it’s important to make that pathway a little bit easier and jumpstart a kid’s dream or goal or career path.”
The CEBL has the highest percentage of Canadian players out of all professional leagues in the country at 75 percent. It’s players bring experience from the NBA, NBA G League, and top international leagues, including including Division 1 FIBA leagues and the Canadian National team program.
More details about the Scarborough Shooting Stars will be announced this fall. Fans are able to access season tickets with a $100 deposit by heading here.