Former Gael switches focus

Football player Matt O'Donnell backs out of CFL training camp to pursue chance with Boston Celtics

A former Queen’s football player is skipping out on a CFL training camp to try out for the NBA’s Boston Celtics.

Lineman Matt O’Donnell was drafted by the Saskatchewan Roughriders last month and was scheduled to attend rookie training camp in Regina today. Instead, the 6’10" athlete flew to Boston for a tryout with the Celtics.

O’Donnell hasn’t played competitive basketball since high school but his agent was able to market his size and “physical ability.”

He said he’s been training with former NBA point guard Bimbo Coles.

“I find that my strength, size, hard working attitude and agility can stack up well after a few personal workouts with Bimbo,” O’Donnell told the Journal via Facebook.

He said the Celtics tryout is only preliminary.

“They haven’t really discussed it too much [with me] at length,” O’Donnell said. “This is just a tryout and fitness test before the NBA draft.”

The Roughriders drafted O’Donnell 15th overall in the CFL draft. They also drafted four other prospects, including lineman Alexander Krausnick-Groh, from the University of Calgary.

“I told the Riders about the [Celtics] tryout a week or so ago,” he said. “They don’t mind excusing me from camp while I pursue my basketball dreams —as long as I return to them after I’m done.

“I hope to sign with them after my basketball prospects are over.”

O’Donnell said he’ll understand if Roughriders management decides to pass on him after his absence at training camp today.

“I wouldn't hold a single grudge against them for moving on,” he said. “They will continue to be my favourite team.”

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