A local talent who took the country by storm in his very first U SPORTS season will wear the bear this summer.

Simon Hildebrandt, the 2022-23 U SPORTS Rookie of the Year hailing from the Manitoba Bisons, is making the leap to professional basketball with the Winnipeg Sea Bears.

Winnipeg picked the city’s very own, Hildebrandt, with the first pick of the CEBL / U SPORTS draft on April 19.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to play professional ball, especially in my hometown. I’ve been following the CEBL since its inception, and I cannot wait to get the chance to play in this league. To be the first-ever draft pick of the Winnipeg Sea Bears is special, and I’m excited to show the country what Winnipeg basketball is all about,” said Hildebrandt.

The local product making waves on the national scene is a perfect example of the city’s thriving basketball culture.

Hildebrandt averaged 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals in his first-ever U SPORTS season. He showed himself as an instant difference-maker as he helped the Bisons rebound from a 7-9 record in 2021-22 to a historic season in 2022-23. Hildebrandt led his team to 18 wins, which led the conference and bested the program’s previous best (17).

“We are extremely excited to make our first U SPORTS draft pick Winnipeg's own Simon Hildebrandt. After his outstanding freshman season at the University of Manitoba in which he won the Dr Peter Mullins trophy for CIS Rookie of the Year and earned 2nd team All- Canadian, we believe Simon is the perfect U SPORTS player for our team, one who will grow and develop from CEBL experience and can return to the University of Manitoba ready to take his game to new heights. I am looking forward to time working with Simon and see him as a great fit for our Sea Bears team," said Mike Taylor, Head Coach of the Sea Bears.

Hildebrandt is now making history once again as the first person to ever be drafted by the Winnipeg Sea Bears.

“We are extremely proud of Simon for the accomplishment. It is a great honour for the program that the first ever U SPORTS draft pick of the Seas Bears is a Bison! It is an incredible opportunity for him to develop his game and get a jump start on his future pro career while staying close to home. I know he will use this experience with Coach Taylor and the Sea Bears to grow as player and as person,” said Kirby Schepp, Head Coach of the Manitoba Bisons.

He becomes the first Bisons basketball player to be drafted first overall into the CEBL, and the program’s third player overall to be selected. Alumni Justus Alleyn and Rashawn Browne were taken 16th overall in 2019 and eighth overall in 2020, respectively.

To see and read up on the team's second-round draft pick, please click here.

The team’s inaugural season tips off May 27 at Canada Life Centre. For tickets, visit seabears.ca/tickets.

About the Winnipeg Sea Bears

The Winnipeg Sea Bears is a professional basketball team competing in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). The team will play all their home games at the Canada Life Centre in downtown Winnipeg, MB. The Sea Bears open their inaugural 2023 season on May 27 against the Vancouver Bandits. Ticket information is available at www.seabears.ca. The team’s social handle @wpgseabears may be followed on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube

About the CEBL

A league created by Canadians for Canadians with a mission to develop Canadian players, coaches, sports executives, and referees, the CEBL boasts the highest percentage of Canadian players of any pro league in the country with 71 percent of its 2022 rosters being Canadian. Players bring experience from the NBA, NBA G League, top international pro leagues, the Canadian National team program, and top NCAA programs as well as U SPORTS. Nine players have moved from the CEBL into the NBA following a CEBL season, and 28 CEBL players attended NBA G League training camps during October. The CEBL season runs from May through August. Head to CEBL.ca for more information or follow @CEBLeague on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook & YouTube.

Social Media:

Facebook: /wpgseabears

Twitter: @wpgseabears

Instagram: wpgseabears

Source: https://www.seabears.ca/local-talent-makes-history-as-sea-bears-first-ever-draft-pick

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