Hometown players looking to make big impact for Winnipeg Sea Bears

On Tuesday the Winnipeg Sea Bears announced their opening-night roster, featuring 5 Winnipeg born players. Kurt Black reports

Last summer the Winnipeg Sea Bears made an immediate impact on the local basketball scene.

From a hometown hero nailing the team’s first game-winner, to fellow Winnipegger Simon Hildebrandt being named CEBL U-Sports player of the year, there was plenty for fans to be excited about.

Now entering year two, many eyes have been on former NBAers Byron Mullins and Darius Days, but just like last season, the Bears will be looking to their local talent if they are to improve on what was a remarkable inaugural season.

Following a second straight trip to the U-Sports national championships, Hildebrandt will be joined this season by fellow Bison and Winnipegger Daren Watts, who enjoyed a breakout campaign for the University of Manitoba this past fall.

Watts carried that momentum into training camp, impressing coaches en route to making the squad.

“You know I always believe in myself, I felt like there was an opportunity to be on the roster, so I went hard and it happened,” explained Watts.

Hildebrandt spoke of his teammate saying, he’s “one of the hardest working guys I know, and he’s a guy that will earn every chance he gets, so I’m super proud of him and excited to share these moments with him.”

But it’s not just the Bisons represented on this year’s team; University of Winnipeg standout guard Shawn Maranan will also be donning the teal and black this summer, joining Watts and Hildebrant in setting their university rivalry on hold — at least for now.

“Those two guys are exceptional players, high understanding of the game, show up every day, and work really hard so nothing but love for those guys,” said Maranan.

“That gets tucked aside, we all have one goal here,” Watts added. “When the season is done, then it will restart, but right now we are all on the same team.”

With training camp now in the rearview mirror, the trio is looking forward to getting the season underway, and proving Winnipeg is more than just a hockey town.

“Excited to put on for the city, for the community, for my family, so Friday can’t come soon enough,” said Maranan.

“Just getting to know Shawn and Donald (Stewart) better, it’s nice to play with these guys for once and not against them, it’s nice to share the court with them,” added Hildebrandt.

“I’m just ready to play against other guys now and see how good this team can be.”

The Sea Bears will tipoff their campaign Wednesday in Saskatchewan, before returning for their home opener on Friday.

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