Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

UVic basketball players Maffia, Ralph, Robinson tabbed for pro CEBL

CEBL season begins May 23
Vikes guard Diego Maffia played his first CEBL season with the Bandits last year. VANCOUVER BANDITS

The concepts of professional and amateur have become a mash-up with the unique agreements Canadian university sports have made with the professional Canadian Elite Basketball League and Canadian Premier League in soccer enabling players to retain their varsity eligibility in those sports while playing as pros during the summer.

Canada West and U Sports national MVP Diego Maffia is set to return to the University of Victoria in the fall for his fifth and final varsity season with the three-time Canada West-champion Vikes. But not before playing his second summer of pro hoops in the CEBL with the Vancouver Bandits, who selected him sixth overall last year in the 2023 U Sports/CEBL draft.

Selected in the 2024 U Sports/CEBL draft this week were Maffia’s UVic teammates Elias Ralph, third overall in the first round to the Saskatchewan ­Rattlers, and Renoldo Robinson 21st overall in the third round to the Montreal Alliance.

Although re-signed to a development contract under the program, the mercurial ­Maffia’s pedigree is such that he is receiving the same attention and exposure as a regular pro player by the Bandits with a splashy announcement Friday.

“I felt it was important to sign and announce Diego as a standard player. He will have a development contract to maintain his eligibility but I view him as a high-level pro who has earned a proper roster spot with us,” ­Bandits head coach and GM Kyle Julius said in a statement.

“Diego has proven he belongs in this league and we are excited about working with him again this summer.”

Maffia, a graduate of Oak Bay Secondary, averaged 7.1 points and 2.4 assists in 15.2 minutes per game in 2023 in his first pro season with the Bandits.

The prolific shooting-guard Maffia is coming off a university season in which he became the third UVic player to win the Mike Moser Award as U Sports MVP following the late 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Olympian Eli Pasquale in 1983-84 and the 2000 Sydney Olympian Eric Hinrichsen in 1996-97 and 1998-99.

Maffia averaged 26.7 points per game this past season with the Vikes to lead U Sports in scoring for the second consecutive year. He felt his pro experience from last summer elevated his game at the varsity level. That happens when you move up from varsity or junior levels to test your game against pros playing with man strength and man speed. Maffia can only come back to CARSA Gym next season as even better player with a second summer of pro experience.

“You are playing against older, bigger, better, faster, stronger players and that can only improve your game,” Maffia told the Times Colonist on Friday.

“It has also elevated my game in other ways when you see the pros and how they operate and you ask them questions and pick their brains. It has taken my pre-game preparation to a whole new level.”

Having already played against pros has given Maffia an added level of confidence: “Last year was about proving myself at the pro level. There’s less of that now. This year I am going in more comfortable and less nervous and excited to show what I can do.”

The Bandits open the 2024 CEBL season on May 23 at the Langley Events Centre against the Montreal Alliance.

“It will be so cool to play against Elias [Ralph] and Renoldo [Robinson] in the pros this summer,” said Maffia.

“It shows what our Vikes program is all about. We will come back to UVic even better next season.”

[email protected]