Most recently, he burned up the college courts in Boston, now Surrey native James Karnik is making his pro debut back home as he prepares to play his first game with the Fraser Valley Bandit tonight in Langley.
The basketball star will bolster the frontcourt for the Langley-based basketball team, as they take on the visiting Montreal Alliance Friday, June 24, starting at 7 p.m., confirmed Bandits head coach Mike Taylor.
“What we like about James is his size, physicality, and his athleticism,” said Taylor.
“It is great that James is a B.C. kid and can come home and play in front of family and friends. Hopefully, he can attract a lot of interest from the area and show the next generation of kids that they can be a Bandit, too.”
Karnik started 31 out of 33 games for the Boston College Eagles in 2021-22 and averaged 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds on 55.8 and 73.2 per cent shooting from the field and free throw line, respectively.
The skilled 6 ft. 9 in. forward joins one of the hottest teams in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) – Fraser Valley has won three straight games and is looking to improve to 3-1 on home court and 7-2 overall this season.
“I am immensely excited to be playing and representing the Fraser Valley Bandits and playing for my hometown team. As I start my professional basketball journey and path towards the NBA, I am excited that I can start that journey on home soil,” Karnik said.
“I am looking forward to connecting with the best fans in the CEBL and working toward a championship,” he added.
Highly touted as one of the top players to emerge from B.C.’s growing pool of prospective NCAA Division I (DI) and U SPORTS talent, Karnik attended Earl Marriott Secondary in Surrey and B.C. Christian Academy in Port Coquitlam.
To further his development, he took his talents to Orangeville Prep in Mono, Ont., where he honed his game under the same program that produced recent NBA draft picks, including Jamal Murray, Thon Maker, and Ignas Brazdeikis.
The bruising forward helped Orangeville win an Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association (OSBA) championship and caught the attention of various NCAA programs.
After Orangeville, Karnik joined Lehigh University where he grew his game and improved his points, rebounds and blocks per game averages in each of his three seasons with the Mountain Hawks. Karnik averaged 12.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and one block per game in 2019-20.
His stellar play in the Patriot League during his time at Lehigh triggered the interest of Boston College, who recruited Karnik for his final two seasons of college basketball in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
This past season, Karnik ranked among the ACC’s top 10 in two-point field goal percentage (61.5), offensive rebounds (70) and offensive rebound percentage (10.5).
Evidence of Karnik’s growing offensive repertoire became apparent in 2021-22. He scored 15 or more points in nine out of 33 games and scored a career high 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting against Virginia Tech on Jan. 22.
“We are really excited about the addition of James Karnik to the frontcourt. I followed James throughout the season at Boston College and he had a great year with some really big games against Duke and other high profile teams,” coach Taylor said.
Fraser Valley hosts the Montreal Alliance at Langley Events Centre tonight, followed by the Newfoundland Growlers on Sunday, June 26 at 3 p.m.
Games are available on CEBL+ live internationally.
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