Niagara River Lions sign two more Canadians

The River Lions open their 2024 season on May 24 on the road beginning a home-and-home against the Brampton Honey Badgers. Pictured: New Niagara River Lion Aaryn Rai. Photo Credit: Aaryn Rai/X. 

After announcing the return of their top four scorers from last season, the Niagara River Lions continue to bolster their roster heading into the 2024 campaign. 

The River Lions first signed 6’7 Canadian Elijah Lufile. 

The 26-year old power forward from Milton, Ontario is currently playing for Joensuun Kataja of the Korisliiga, Finland’s first division league, where he is averaging 12.9 points and 1.4 assists, while leading the team with 10.2 rebounds.

“Elijah is a phenomenal young man and basketball player, and we are lucky to have him on our side this summer,” said Head Coach and General Manager Victor Raso. “One of the areas that we felt like we needed to improve from last summer was rebounding, and the addition of Elijah directly addresses that. He brings a lot to the table – he is physical, a great athlete, he is excellent attacking the rim on the pick and roll, he is improving in the post, but ultimately he is a professional rebounder who can change a game on the boards.” 

Lufile becomes the second new player added to the 2024 roster after Nathan Cayo, following the announcement of six returning players, Khalil Ahmad, AJ Davis, Eddie Ekiyor, Jahvon Blair, T.J. Lall and Kimbal Mackenzie.

Lufile began his collegiate career in 2016-17 redshirting as a freshman at Lamar Community College before transferring to Midland College where he played one season averaging 13.6 points and leading the team with 8.1 rebounds, while recording 10 double-doubles in 27 starts. He then transferred to Oral Roberts University in 2019 where in his senior season he averaged 7.9 points and 7.1 rebounds while shooting 71.2 per cent from the field.

In 2022, Lufile signed his first professional contract with the Salt Lake City Stars of the G-League where he played in 16 games averaging 5.0 points and 3.2 rebounds.

Next up, Niagara inked 25-year-old Canadian, Aaryn Rai. 

The 6’6 forward from Markham, Ontario is currently playing for the Cheshire Phoenix of the British Basketball League (BBL) where he is averaging 18.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 31.6 minutes per game.  

“This guy can play,” was the first comment from Raso when contacted by The Niagara Independent. “His game is very multi-faceted, he plays multiple positions, can score in many ways and is an excellent rebounder.” 

“On top of that, he is a very impressive young man who has a bright career ahead of him. Aaryn is an excellent addition to our team and I’m very excited to have him!”

Prior to his professional career, Rai spent five years at Ivy League, Dartmouth College where he played Division 1 basketball while earning a neuroscience degree. As a member of the Big Green, Rai averaged 8.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 107 games played. During the 2021-22 season, Rai ranked among the top 10 in the Ivy League in scoring (12.3 per game, 10th), rebounding (7.2 per game, 3rd), blocked shots (0.6 per game, 7th) and steals (1.2 per game, 10th).

Following his collegiate career, Rai signed with the Hemel Storm of the National Basketball League in England where the team went unbeaten all season and Rai made his mark in Storm history. Rai became the team’s second season MVP ever after averaging 24 points, 10.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists amongst many memorable performances. 

In his current season with the Phoenix, Rai helped lead the team to a BBL Cup victory putting up 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals in the final game. He sits second in the league in points per game (18.4), and fifth in total rebounds per game (7.8).

“I’m super excited to play for Coach Victor and the River Lions this summer,” said Rai “I’m preparing to bring great energy to the team and hopefully some silverware back to Niagara at the end of the season!”

The River Lions open their 2024 season on May 24 on the road beginning a home and home against the Brampton Honey Badgers.

Find out more on the River Lions and the CEBL at

Your donations help us continue to deliver the news and commentary you want to read. Please consider donating today.

Donate Today


  • Politics

  • Sports

  • Business