Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Eight months after wrapping up the most prolific career in MacEwan men's basketball history, Denzel James is making school history again.
The program's all-time leading scorer has become the first former Griffin in modern program history to sign a professional contract.
After inking a deal with the National Basketball League's Kitchener-Waterloo Titans, James will be flying to Ontario to join the team in time for training camp Nov. 1.
"It's kind of been a goal of mine as long as I can remember," said James, who is set to graduate from MacEwan with an accounting degree this fall. "It means the world that it's finally paying off after I've been putting in countless hours (of practice). To actually get a chance to go and play pro is huge."
James amassed 1,491 points in his five-year Griffins career, breaking Robbie Valpreda's all-time mark of 1,414 that had stood since 2005.
Often in the gym to work out at 6 a.m., the Edmonton product noted it has been the extra work he's put in that's made the difference. He hopes that sets an example for current and future Griffins players of what it takes to achieve excellence on the court.
"A lot of guys that came in saw that I may have been one the starters, but I was also the one that put in more work than anyone else," James said. "And it just shows what it takes.
"If you want to be a player in that league or if you want to play professional basketball, it doesn't just take going to practice for two hours a day. It takes more than that. It takes going to the gym on your own time, coming to shoot on your own time," he continued. "To any of the young guys, I would assume it sets a good example so they know the mentality and the dedication it takes to achieve those goals."
Griffins head coach Eric Magdanz is happy to see James get to the next level in his basketball career.
"It kind of fits perfectly. It's just another step in his development," he said. "He came in as maybe an under-recruited player and he put in the time and effort needed to become a very solid Canada West and U Sports player.
"It's only fitting that he's leading us into this path, as well."
For Magdanz, having a former player in the pro ranks is also feather in the cap for MacEwan basketball.
"It just shows the development of our program," he said. "It's just another thing affirming that our program is headed on the right track, that we're developing athletes. Athletes are not only getting a quality education, but working on their athletic careers as well."