NCAA: The Best of the Rest
Previously on NPH, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph were profiled, the high-flying Canadian duo currently primed to lead the University of Texas deep into the 2011 NCAA Tournament. And while not all Canadian players have the opportunity this year that Thompson and Joseph have, it doesn’t mean that other Canadian players aren’t making noteworthy strides. Of all the Canucks currently playing in the NCAA, the following should be brought to your attention, as you will be hearing more about them in the near future.
The Man in Orange
Montreal native Kris Joseph is no stranger to hoops fans. As the leading scorer for the perennial contender Syracuse Orange, Joseph finds himself showcasing his skills on prime time TV week-in and week-out. After spending his first two seasons as a role player, the 6’7 small forward finally broke out this year and took on a starring role for Syracuse. He led the team in scoring by averaging 14.4 per contest, while ending up second in steals and rebounds with 1.6 and 5 per game, respectively. Currently slated as a late 1st-round NBA draft pick, Joseph has an immediate opportunity to solidify his reputation even further. With Syracuse currently ranked as a 3rd seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, Joseph has the opportunity to have the world take notice of how Montrealers get the job done on the hardwood.
Ballin’ for the Bonnies
Mississauga, Ontario’s own Andrew Nicholson has been dominant since the day he suited up for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. The junior power forward has averaged roughly 17 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game throughout his NCAA career, while shooting an astounding 58% from the field. This year he was named to the Atlantic-10 All Conference team after posting 21 points, 7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. With solid skills and a 6’9, 225 pound frame, Nicholson is well on his way to being drafted into the NBA after graduation.
Rolling three-deep in Canadian content, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will once again give Canadians a reason to root for them in this year’s tournament. Despite having their hands full as an 11th seed, the Bulldogs will be ready for the challenge, boasting experience and a balanced lineup.
Hailing from Vancouver, third-year centre Robert Sacre anchors the Bulldogs with his presence down low. At seven feet tall and 260 pounds, Sacre was named to the All West Coast Conference team after averaging 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks per game this year. Sophomores Kelly Olynyk, from Kamloops, British Columbia and Manny Arop, from Edmonton, Alberta bring depth and versatility to the forward postion for the Bulldogs. A skilled seven footer, Olynyk has a deft shooting touch and good low post skills, while the 6’6 Arop brings dynamic speed and athleticism off the bench for Gonzaga.
Carrying the Torch for Toronto
Toronto has always been a significant producer of Canadian basketball talent, and that has never been clearer than now. Here are four top-notch players from the Big City who you might not have taken notice of yet.
A 6’7 junior, Ashaolu averaged 14 points and 9 rebounds a game for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs this past season, and was named to the All-Defensive Team for the Western Athletic Conference, and was an Honourable Mention for the All-Conference Team. Coming off a 24-11 season, the Bulldogs limped to a 12-20 record this year. Ashaolu will be a critical part of his team’s ability to rebound next year, in every sense of the word.
6’5 junior Tyler Murray had an outstanding season for the Wagner Seahawks as he led them in scoring, steals, and three pointers, while finishing second in rebounding and assists. Boasting an average stat line of 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 2 threes per game, Murray was named to the Northeast Conference First Team for his efforts.
All-West Coast Conference guard Nemanja Mitrovic lit the west coast on fire this year, averaging 2.9 3-pointers per game, while shooting them at a 46.7% clip from beyond the arc. He finished second on his team in scoring with 13.7 points per game, and was third in minutes played as he helped the Portland Pilots finish with a respectable 20-11 record. Mitrovic is wrapping up his third season.
Mintz was named to the Patriot League First Team this past year after averaging 15.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest for the Lafayette Leopards. At 6’9 and 243 pounds, Mintz is definitely a beast in the paint, but he also possesses solid skills to go with his size. The senior is a career 50% field goal shooter and 78% from the charity stripe.