Rautins honorary chair for OCAA championship

Former NBA player and Team Canada head coach Leo Rautins is the honorary chairperson for the OCAA men's basketball championship to be hosted by Lambton College in March 2020. Dave Abel/Postmedia File Photo (4) Leo Rautins, Coach of Team Canada calls a shot during action against team France in the second half of action at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto August 12th, 2010. This game is a tune-up for the World Basketball Championship in Turkey. Photo by Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/QMI / Dave Abel / Toronto SUN

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The Lambton Lions have added some NBA flavour to the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association men’s basketball championship.

Toronto Raptors television analyst and former NBA player Leo Rautins was announced July 2 as the honorary chairperson for the tournament March 6-8 at Lambton College.

“I was honoured to be the keynote speaker at the opening of the Lambton College Athletics & Fitness Complex in October 2018,” Rautins said in a news release. “I can attest that this beautiful facility is very well positioned to host this event and offer athletes, coaches and fans an experience they will not soon forget.”

Rautins was the first Canadian ever chosen in the first round of the NBA draft in 1983. He played for the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks before taking his pro career to Europe.

He was the head coach of the Canadian national men’s team from 2005 to 2011. He’s a member of the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame and Ontario Basketball Hall of Fame.

Rautins made a memorable impression on the Lions during his visit to Lambton College last October.

“Leo took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with our varsity basketball teams, sharing stories from one of the most storied basketball careers in Canada,” Lions men’s head coach James Grant said in the release. “This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience that our players will not soon forget.”

Rautins hopes to attend the OCAA championship if his NBA broadcast schedule lets him.

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone of Leo’s calibre associated with the OCAA basketball championship,” Lambton College manager of athletics and recreation Greg Stewart said in the release. “A strong supporter of Lambton College, Leo’s enthusiasm for the Lambton Lions has definitely added to the hype of our basketball teams on campus and we hope to continue to leverage this excitement throughout the season leading up to the championship tournament.”

The Lions have gone to the eight-team tournament in five of the past six years.