Monday, April 15, 2013

Tryouts Net NCAA Champion from UConn and UNC-Asheville Product

The Tampa Bay Rebels held tryouts on March 23rd at Freedom High School in New Tampa in preparation for the 2013 Florida Basketball Association season. Players from the Tampa Bay area and other cities across the state of Florida were put through various drills during the 2-hour workout under the instruction of the Rebels’ staff. Following the workouts, the Rebels reached agreements with two players and extended training camp invitations to a handful of other prospects.

The Rebels were able to reach an agreement with Charles Okwandu, a seven-foot center from the University of Connecticut , who will provide the Rebels with a battle-tested big man to anchor the post. Okwandu, who was born in Nigeria, played for legendary coach Jim Calhoun at UConn, and was a key role player for the 2011 National Champion Huskies, scoring 2 points, grabbing 5 rebounds, and blocking a shot in the NCAA Championship game. While at UConn, Okwandu played with Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats and Jeremy Lamb of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Following his time at Connecticut, Okwandu moved on the play for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA’s Developmental League. When asked why the Rebels are a good fit for him, Charles replied, “I want to improve my game. I work hard and am always ready to learn from the coaches and my teammates.”

Chris Stephenson, a 6’3” guard from UNC-Asheville of the Big South Conference, also reached an agreement to play for the Rebels during the 2013 season. A versatile wing player, Stephenson was a key part of the Bulldogs as they reached back to back NCAA Tournaments in 2011 and 2012. A native of Punta Gorda, Florida, Stephenson played in Europe for BC Siaulai in Lithuania in his first pro season. “The Tampa Bay Rebels are a wonderful program,” Stephenson stated. “The Rebels are relatively close to me, so it feels good to play in my home state again. They play in the off-season of the European leagues so it is a great way to stay in shape plus be around athletes that have the same thought process, which is to get better collectively.”

The Rebels will play their season-opener at home on April 27th at 7pm as they face-off against the Heartland Prowl in a rematch of the 2012 championship game. All games will be played at Freedom High School in New Tampa. Children 13 and under receive free admission to the game, while those over 13 can purchase tickets for $10. Tickets can be purchased at R●Sole, located in University Square Mall, during store hours, or you can purchase them at the Freedom High School gymnasium on the night of the game. Please visit for the complete schedule and the latest news on the Tampa Bay Rebels.