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This Junior is the St. John's Edge's comeback kid

St. John's Edge point guard Junior Cadougan (55) is shown in action against the Sudbury Five during a National Basketball League of Canada game at Mile One Centre in December. Cadougan has been named the NBLC's most improved player for 2018-19. The Edge and Five hook up tonight at Mile One in Game 1 of their best-of-five opening-round playoff series. — St. John's Edge photo/Jeff Parsons
St. John's Edge point guard Junior Cadougan (55) is shown in action against the Sudbury Five during a National Basketball League of Canada game at Mile One Centre in December. Cadougan has been named the NBLC's most improved player for 2018-19. The Edge and Five hook up tonight at Mile One in Game 1 of their best-of-five opening-round playoff series. — St. John's Edge photo/Jeff Parsons

Cadougan named National Basketball League of Canada's most improved player

Junior Cadougan went to the Edge, took a determined leap ... and began to soar.

Cadougan is officially the National Basketball League’s most improved player. But in his case, the honour bestowed upon him this week might carry a subtitle: comeback player of the year.

The 28-year-old Toronto native signed with the Edge last September as he looked to rebound from what had been a forgettable 2017-18 campaign. And he rebounded big time, becoming a mainstay for an Edge team that opens its playoff schedule 7 p.m. today at Mile One Centre, as it hosts the Sudbury Five in Game 1 of a best-of-five first-round series.

Just getting to play — and play a lot — might have been described an achievement for Cadougan, the former Marquette star and Canadian national team player who only appeared in a few NBL Canada games last season with the London Lightning.

He had been coming off a 2016-17 when he was a starter for London, helping lead the Lightning to a league championship. But a knee injury led to arthroscopic surgery early in the following campaign, and although he was reactivated midseason, Cadougan only got scant playing time, and in early February of 2018, he was released by London at his request.

His final 2017-18 stats with the Lightning: five games, 49 total minutes of playing time, 1.2 points per contest.

Cadougan used the extra time off to prepare for whatever was to come, which turned out to be the Edge, where Doug Plumb, who once had been an assistant on London’s staff, was the head coach.

In the first few games of the 2018-19 season, Cadougan was primarily a bench player for St. John’s, but in early December, the 6-1, 205 pounder entered the St. John’s starting lineup and never left.

In all, Cadougan started 35 of the 39 games he played with the Edge, averaging nearly 13 points and exactly four rebounds. His 172 total assists led St. John’s and his average of 4.4 helpers per game was sixth best in the league.

They were numbers which also earned Cadougan a place as a member of the NBLC’s second all-Canadian team for the second time in three years. He had also been a second team all-Canadian with London in 2016-17.

Steve Marcus, who took over as the Edge head coach after Plumb left the team late in the season, said Cadougan’s story is basically about dedication and hard work. And although that might be expected from a player whose Twitter name is @JRwontLose, Marcus called Cadougan’s revival “truly remarkable” nonetheless.

“Came back the old fashion way, by staying in the gym,” Tweeted Marcus (@Steve_Paco) after the league announced Cadougan’s award.

Twitter: @telybrendan

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