There are currently 104 Canadian student-athletes competing in the NCAA (D1).
So let me preface the following by saying, I’m extremely proud of how Canadian basketball has evolved, and how it is perceived internationally.
About seven years ago, when I first entered the basketball world through the lens of a scout / media member, the reputation of Canadian student-athletes abroad was weak–to say the least.
People would humorously say, “Oh, he’s Canadian?” or “This team is from Canada?” usually underestimating the competition (club travel teams that compete in U.S can vouch for this).
Now, the tone has changed. When people (coaches, fans, media) across the border mention Canadians, it’s more often than not, in a positive light.
At the end of the day, the reputation has improved so drastically because of how these student-athletes are producing at the highest of levels.
The list you are about to see is proof.
Player stock rises and drops throughout the season; a plethora of factors are taken into account including production, winning, strength of competition and long-term potential.
As we constantly re-iterate at @NorthPoleHoops -Team Success breeds individual success– a statement that is true at every level. Ultimately, careers are made under the spot light…AKA tournament time or playoffs.
With that being said, I have created a Canadian Top 10 list based off the above, along with my years of tracking these athletes, in most cases, since high school.
Watching roles change at the next level is very interesting. You see that certain players are limited in their offense, sacrificing for the greater good of the team.
The reality is that NCAA players were typically the stars of their high school teams. However, the transition to university basketball is a big one, which requires patience, trust in the system, work ethic and taking advantage of opportunity.
Some on this list were blessed with substantial playing time as freshman, while others have had to develop each off season and earn the respect of both their coaches and teammates.
The top three Canadians in Wiggins, Stauskas, and Ennis are first-round NBA selections as far as I’m concerned.
Following the top three, there is more NBA potential, but not likely first-round calibre.
It will depend on:
1) Production throughout the rest of the 2013-2014 season
2) When they elect to declare
3) Success of their team–will ultimately boost their stock and put them in good position among NBA scouts.
Hate it or love, here we go…
Top 10 NCAA Canadians
1. Andrew Wiggins | Kansas | 6’7 | SF | FR | Huntington Prep | Vaughan, ON
Stat Line: 15.8 PPG, 6. RPG, 1 .6 APG, 44% FG
Team Record: 15-4
Not much to debate here. Wiggins represents the future for Canadian basketball, and although he may not be living up to the built up media hype, potential is the key word here. Anytime I evaluate players, I’ll be the first to take production over potential, simply because production is proof. But when it comes to Wiggins, both elements have been present this season. Lets not forget, he is leading one of the top teams in the nation in scoring, while displaying glimpses of his brillance. The killer instinct which he is still developing is beginning to come out during BIG 12 conference play, in doses. Many people seem to underestimate Wiggins’ defensive versatility. When the Jayhawks need to slow down the opposition’s best player, Wiggins is usually the one called upon by Coach Self. Personally, I still believe that if the NBA draft was today, Wiggins would go number one. Could you imagine the team that passes up on Wiggy? Joel Embiid or Jabari Parker are not bad choices either. I guess you can call it my Canadian bias.
2. Nik Stauskas | Michigan | 6’6 | G | SO | St. Marks | Mississauga, ON
Stat Line: 18.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.8 APG, 50%
Team Record: 15-4 (BIG 10)
Nik Stauskas proved he was more than a shooter much earlier than this season. To be exact, it was during my Vegas trip in July of 2011, where it became evident that the 6’6 wing was not just a shooter, but a play maker. It took a sophomore year for Stauskas to prove it on the college scene, as he played his role to perfection last season, running his routes and being the designated shooter, alongside Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway and last year’s NCAA finals team. Over this past summer, I had the pleasure of making the trip to Ann Arbor to watch Stauskas work. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be ready to make the next step into the NBA, this year, due to his machine-like focus, maturity and the professional work ethic dedicated to his craft. He’s got “it”– I project him as a first-round selection in 2014, and have had this stance following my trip this past summer. Nik Stauskas is the best Canadian two-guard regardless of age.
3. Tyler Ennis | Syracuse | 6’2 | PG | FR | St. Benedicts Prep| Brampton, ON
Stat Line: 12 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.5 APG, 2.5 SPG, 43%
Team Record: 19-0 (ACC)
Flawless victory; the best way to describe Tyler Ennis’ freshman season. Here is the third and possibly final Canadian that I believe will be a first-rounder in the upcoming NBA draft. Yup…he’s that good, and the reality is that he’s been that way his entire career, excelling at every level. Ennis is everything that you could ask for in a point guard, with seemingly no glaring weaknesses. That rare poise is what seperates him from the rest of the lead guards in America. Plays with such composure, at his own pace, protects possession and makes plays when Syracuse needs him most. Ennis has his team at 18-0 and looking like an early favourite for the national title run. I believe that Tyler Ennis is the best Canadian point guard regardless of age.
4. Jordan Bachynski | Arizona St | 7’2 | C | SR | Centennial | Calgary, AB
Stat Line: 12.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 4.4 BPG, 59% FG
Team Record: 15-5 (PAC 12)
Here’s my dark horse. NBA scouts are familiar, but for the general national public (in Canada & US), Jordan Bachynski is somewhat of a hidden gem. Lets start with this–the Calgary product leads the NCAA in shot blocking by a substantial margin, averaging 4.5 blocks per game, and #2 Chris Obekba (3.8 BPG). JB is more than just a shot-blocker, he’s a rim protector that alters shots with his 7’4 wing span and timing, making the opposition think twice before entering the paint. At 7’2, his mobility and agility is impressive. Offensively, he creates havoc on the interior without the ball in his hands; does a great job or remaining low and wide to carve out space, winning position over defenders, as well as drawing attention from the defense–opening opportunities for teammates on the perimeter. Statistically, the Calgary product is averaging career-highs in all major categories– 12.1 PPG, 9.3 RPG with great efficiency (58% FG) on only 7.7 field goal attempts. In addition, Bachynski has both set and broken records at Arizona State this season–recording ASU’s first triple-double in school history (13 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 12 blocks), has climbed the PAC 12 ladder (surpassing Taj Gibson & Channing Frye) in all-time shots blocked, and is set to take sole position of the #1 spot, a record set by Anthony Cook (Arizona/ 1985-89). For NBA teams looking for a defensive specialist, you can’t go wrong here, but some scouts will definitely factor in that Bachynski is 24-years old, two years older than most seniors.
5. Olivier Hanlan | Boston College | 6’3 | G | SO | New Hampton | Gatineau, QC
Stat Line: 18.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 43% FG
Team Record: 5-14 (ACC)
Boston College is struggling, but Olivier Hanlan, last year’s ACC freshman of the year is still pulling his weight. Hanlan is leading the team in scoring and second in both rebounding and assists.The combo guard has the ability to score from literally everywhere on the floor, making him the focal point of opposing team’s scouting reports. The fact that defences put such focus on Hanlan (especially after a tremendous freshman season), makes it that much more impressive that he has been able to elevate his offensive production by over three points. The Gatineau native has built himself a very strong pro resume, loaded with individual accolades, but it will be interesting to see if Hanlan feels ready to take the next step after this season.
6. Khem Birch | UNLV | 6’9 | F | JR | Notre Dame Prep | Montreal, QC
Stat Line: 11.3 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.1, APG, 3.6 BPG
Team Record: 13-7 (Mountain West)
The former McDonald’s All-American had a rough start to his NCAA career, having a cup of coffee at Pittsburgh before transferring to UNLV, where he has made steady progress over the past two years. Birch is averaging a near double-double, increasing his figures in every major statistical category. His 3.5 blocks per game are good for sixth in the nation–his biggest strength. Birch exemplifies the words upside and potential as his physical attributes alone make him a very intriguing NBA prospect. He is now putting in the numbers to back him up. As he develops his skill set, you can expect his stock to rise.
7. Dwight Powell | Stanford | 6’10 | F | SR | IMG Academy | Toronto, ON
Stat Line: 14.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.1 BPG, 1.5 SPG, 49%
Team Record: 12-6 (PAC 12)
Versatility– The best way to describe Powell, on both ends of the floor. He has the ability to defend four positions due to his size, length and agility. On the flip side, he can create offensive production (scoring or passing from multiple areas on the floor). At 6’10, Powell leads Stanford in assists–the one statistical category that there has been a considerable increase in over his career. Powell is far from a finished product, but his ability to effect the game in so many ways is what makes him so appealing.
8. Melvin Ejim | Iowa St | 6’6 | SF | SR | Brewster Academy | Toronto, ON
Stat Line: 17.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2 APG, 52%
Team Record: 15-3 (BIG 12)
You cannot deny his production. Ejim is leading Iowa State in one of the best conferences in college basketball. When you talk about players that have made steady progress each year, while remaining patient, Ejim fits the bill. On a nightly basis, Ejim is performing and excelling against the best players in the NCAA. After leading the BIG 12 conference on the boards last year, his rebounding has dipped, but his scoring has increased considerably by over six points.
9. Kevin Pangos | Gonzaga | 6’2 | G | JR | Denison | Landing, ON
Stat Line: 16.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 45% FG, 43% 3P
Team Record: 18-3 (WCC)
After losing Kelly Olynyk to the NBA, Kevin Pangos has held down the fort for the Zags, currently owning a 18-3 record with statistical improvements across the board. As fundamentally sound as they come, from shooting, dribbling, to passing. One of the few point guards that make their teammates better, while leading by example. I have always seen Pangos as a four-year player at Gonzaga, that will continue to evolve due to his professional work ethic and attention to detail. Pangos’ physical attributes are not not eye popping, quite average actually, however, he makes up for it with strong basketball I.Q, shooting efficiency and flat out consistent production. He has a very impressive resume over two seasons which includes back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, a WCC championship and helping Gonzaga to it’s first ever #1 ranking last season. KP is proven at every level (Canada, U.S, Internationally) and has excelled against the best of the best. You will see Pangos popping up on draft boards when it’s all said and done.
10. Kenny Chery | Baylor | 5’11 | PG | JR | State Fair JUCO | Montreal, QC
Stat Line: 11.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 5.2 APG, 46%
Team Record: 13-6 (BIG 12)
Fearless. Kenny Chery consistently attacks the trees using tremendous body control and clever use of pump fakes. He finishes all the way at the rack or draws defenders to spoon feed teammates. Chery has a phenomenal feel for the game, plays with what the defence gives him, but is also never shy to launch when his team needs a bucket. Possesses an extremely tight handle, and is one of the best point guards that I’ve seen when it comes to creating space.
10. Daniel Mullings | New Mexico St | 6’2 | G | JR | Laurier | Toronto, ON
Stat Line: 17 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.2 SPG, 45% FG
Team Record: 15-7
Mullings is a stat sheet stuffer, he does so much on the floor thanks to a strong physical make up. Mullings is extremely explosive and quick–helps him beat defenders, attack relentlessly, rebound the basketball, and be effective in the passing lanes. He scores at a decent percentage from the field (45%) but still has a year under his belt to extend his range (30% 3P) and overall consistency in his jump shooting.
Stat Line: 10.7 PPG, 12 RPG, 51%
The biggest Canadian surprise for me. Fitting to his name, Chad is going to WORK in the post. The Winnipeg, MB product is currently ranked number two in the country in rebounding…off the bench! Posthumus began his college career in the CIS at UBC prior to Morehead St. I don’t think anybody expected this type of production.
Stat Line: 11.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 53% FG
Team Record: 13-6 (A10)
Stat Line: 11.2 PPG, 46% FG, 48% 3P
Team Record: 13-6 (BIG 12)
Stat Line: 11.3 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1 SPG, 50% FG, 54% 3P
Team Record: 13-5 (PAC 12)
Stat Line: 9.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.3 BPG, 67%
Team Record: 14-7 (WAC)