Road less travelled led Rattlers' Negus Webster-Chan to Saskatchewan
Native of Scarborough, Ont., guided by free-spirited decisions, loyalty
There aren't many inches of Negus Webster-Chan's 6-foot-7 frame that haven't been turned into art. Some visible when he drives through the paint with ease, some only seen peeking through in workouts.
The CN Tower on his left bicep, a tribute to his hometown lineage. A leg sleeve inspired by his adopted home of Hawaii.
On his neck, the acronym F.O.E, Family Over Everything, his personal mantra, similar to the 'Foever Family' that serves as the name of his clothing company.
Carefully crafted throughout his 28 years, each tattoo tells a story. Some born through pain, some born through success, but all the cumulation of a journey through the road less travelled.
In his third season with the Saskatchewan Rattlers, the guard has never been one to shy away from challenges, or to take the unconventional route to where he wants to be.
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To some, his decision to transfer from the University of Missouri to the University of Hawaii, the lesser known mid-major school, foregoing the notoriety of a more well-known institution, and the higher possibility of being noticed by NBA scouts was a questionable decision.
But for the native of Scarborough, Ont., it was another square in the quilt of free-spirited decisions that so perfectly make up his life.
"I was meant to be in Hawaii," he says, confidently, "their culture, their beliefs, they are very similar to my own. They value family, they're very family oriented in Hawaii, and that's how I am."
An echo to his family-over-everything mentality proudly displayed on his neck.
"I've always been big on loyalty, and they've always treated me right, and it's only right to reciprocate that," Webster-Chan affirms in yet another testament to his allegiant personality.
A highly touted recruit since leading Saskatchewan to the championship in 2019, the first in CEBL history, Webster-Chan could make a case to fit on any roster. His stats, rounded in every category, speak for themselves. His work ethic, unparalleled.
His easy-going persona slips ever so slightly in the locker room making him an approachable leader who simultaneously commands respect. It is his attitude, the careful balance of calm and exuberance that radiates from him that made him an instant fan favourite, his picture splashed in the foreground of every poster.
"The fans love me," he states without a shred of bravado, "and I love them."
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Unable to perform in front of the people of Saskatchewan who have welcomed and embraced him since he scored the first basket in CEBL history was disheartening for the former CEBL and NBA G League champion, but he knew they would be watching, cheering for him from their couches, and in true Negus fashion, he saw what some would consider a roadblock as simply another adventure.
"I told the guys on our team that this was going to be a test. This will show us who really wants to play basketball, who is self motivated without the fans, who's up for the challenge."
His earliest basketball memories aren't of AAU tournaments or camps, but of shooting from sun up to sun down outside of St. Albert School in the first and second grade, where the luxury of regular play was left entirely to both drive and childlike innovation.
"We didn't always have nets or anything, so we used to shoot on this [metre] cage that was connected to the school. That's something that always sticks in my mind. It was pretty unique, but we made it work."
The novelty of playing his professional career in Canada, the same place he honed his craft without a basketball net, is not one that is lost on the two-time champion, whose path has taught him to grow where he is planted.
His love for the game is what fuels him, and for Negus Webster-Chan, the love reciprocated by both Rattlers fans and the organization as a whole is what keeps him grounded, connected and rooted.