Raptors Uprising GC completes 2021 esports roster, drafting Joshua (TsJosh) McKenna

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Lakers Gaming used the first pick to take Arshia (Krazy) Karimi. Enrique (630) Xavier Barraza went second overall to Pacers Gaming and Veron (Hezi) Coates third to Warriors Gaming Squad via a pick obtained from Gen. G Tigers of Shanghai.

The draft pool included a record 33 international players from nine countries: Canada. Australia, China, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

A pair of Canadians were drafted — Wahid (Faiz3752) Faiz, in the second round by Nets GC. and Harsimran (Dhuggzz) Dhugga, in the third round by Hornets Venom GT.

Dhugga, from Brampton, Ont., was a member of Canada’s team at the FIBA Esports Open in December.

There were also a record 10 women, who earned eligibility through both the NBA 2K League Draft Prospect Series and the NBA 2K League’s Women in Gaming initiative.

Celtics Crossover Gaming took Alaina (DjLayyy) Hainey in the second round (28th overall) while Mavs Gaming selected Ziah (ziah) Minor in the third (52nd overall). They are the second and third women drafted, following the footsteps of Chiquita (Chiquita) Evans, taken 56th overall by Warriors Gaming Squad in 2019.

Former Raptors Uprising players Anthony (Wuan) Rivas and Jake (Legit) Knapp found new homes. Rivas went to Heat Check Gaming while Knapp, younger brother of former Raptors Uprising centre Jerry (Sick One) Knapp, was taken by Nets GC, both in the second round.

Teams were allowed to retain up to four players from their 2020 roster, leaving 63 roster spots available.

Raptors Uprising had three incumbents in reigning MVP Kenneth (Kenny Got Work) Hailey, Defensive Player of the Year Trent (Timelycook) Donald and Maurice (ReeceMode) Flowers.

Toronto added centre Xavier (Type) Vescovi in a November deal that sent all star centre Jerry Knapp to Hornets Venom GT. Later that month, the Raptors reacquired power forward Trevion (All Hail Trey) Hendrix from Cavs Legion GC in exchange for a first-round pick (21st overall) in Saturday’s draft.

Toronto had chosen Hendrix in the fourth round (58th overall) of the 2018 draft. He was traded to Cleveland in Season 2 for Knapp.

Raptors Uprising set a slew of records in going 16-0 during the 2020 regular season, winning two tournaments along the way. But Toronto came up short in the playoffs, downing the Hornets in the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Wizards District Gaming in the semifinals.

Hailey was named a first-team all-star in 2020 alongside Jerry Knapp, while Donald was voted to the second all-star team. Hailey and Donald were also named to the league’s all-defensive team.

Vescovi was voted to the league’s all defensive team in 2019.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press