Written by Nishaan Sodhi and Max Feldman
College basketball fans rejoice; the madness is officially on. In just a few days, 68 of the top college basketball programs across the United States will compete in a single-elimination tournament to crown a national champion. March Madness isn’t just a tournament, it’s THE tournament. And within a span of just 20 days, the tournament will play host to unprecedented upsets, career-defining moments, and of course, a collection of heartbreaks and triumphs.
As Canadian talent continues to flourish in Division 1 basketball, NorthPoleHoops has been playing particular attention to how Canada’s players have been performing down South. And as we’ve increasingly seen in the past, the Canadians are having a profound impact on their respective teams across the nation.
It seems like aeons ago when Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph made their way south to Texas. Although not evident then, the pair would end up paving the way for hundreds of Canadian players to follow their path in pursuit of the NBA. Today, the basketball landscape is much different. Keeping up with all of the Canadian NCAA talent is almost a full-time job, and having the “Oh, I didn’t know he / she was Canadian!” moment almost on a weekly basis is inevitable.
Given this, rather than announcing our Canadian College All-Star Teams, NPH is opening the decision up to you. After careful consideration, we’ve managed to cut our list down to ten players who have stood head and shoulders above their Canadian counterparts.
Regardless of if they are in the tournament or not, with 3 guards and 2 forwards to pick from, who’s on your Canadian College All-Star Team?
Lindell Wigginton, Iowa State
Wigginton is the primary focus of the Cyclones’ offense, and for good reason. His ability to drive through traffic and score in the paint devastates opposing defences, while at the same time he can stretch the floor – shooting a respectful 40.6% from beyond the arc. Wigginton is also a force on the defensive end and currently stands at the team’s second leading steal-getter.
Unfortunately for the Cyclones, this season was a bit of a let-down as the team finished last in Big-12 standings. We are eager to see whether or not the top recruit in school history will return for another year to lead the Cyclones to an NCAA tournament berth.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky
Gilgeous-Alexander truly cemented his status as Kentucky’s leader during the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Tournament. In the three SEC tournament matchups, Gilgeous-Alexander average 21.0 points, 6.7 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, leading Kentucky to its fourth straight SEC Tournament Championship.
His play did not go unnoticed. After Kentucky’s 77-72 win over the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC final, in which Gilgeous-Alexander tallied 29 points, 7 rebounds, and three assists, the Canadian standout was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. In addition, to being named the tournament’s MVP, Gilgeous-Alexander was named to the All-Tournament team, the Second Team All-SEC, and the All-SEC Freshman Team.
Not bad for the seventh rated recruit coming into the season.
Gilgeous-Alexander is looking to carry this momentum forward this Thursday when his Wildcats take on Davidson for their first NCAA tournament matchup.
Kassius Robertson, Missouri
The only senior on the list, Kassius Robertson spent his first four years of college as a member of Canisius College Golden Griffins where he averaged 16.1 points per game as a senior along with 3.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists, while shooting 41% from the three. Despite making the move from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to the mighty SEC, Robinson has increased his offense production to 16.5 points per game, continuing to be a knockdown shooter from beyond the arc.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech
Alexander-Walker entered his first season at Virginia Tech with high expectations, as he was highly touted coming out of high school. He put up 10.5 points, 4 boards and 1.4 assists per game. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is highly regarded by NBA scouts and GM’s and looks to have a promising professional future, but for now he looks to make run with Hokies in the NCAA tournament.
Koby McEwen, Utah State
McEwen was named to the Third Team All Mountain West Conference team after another strong year at Utah State. McEwen put up in 15.6 points, 5 boards and 3 assists per game. McEwen, only a sophomore, has massive potential and is one of the biggest rising stars of all mid major schools.
Trae Bell-Haynes, Vermont
Bell-Haynes, a senior guard from the Toronto area has been a cornerstone of the Vermont Catamounts since he stepped on campus. In his final year of eligibility, Bell-Haynes paced the Catamounts with 15 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4 assists per game. He won the American East Player of the Year Award for the second year in a row, as the Catamounts fell just short of an NCAA tournament berth.
Oshae Brissett, Syracuse
Brissett has been an anchor for the Orange on both the offensive and defensive ends. With his ability to both stretch the floor with his knockdown shooting and quickness and length, allowing him to drive with ease, opposing defenses often have no answer the Brissett. On defense, Brissett has utilized that same length and quickness to become a lockdown defender. With his stellar defensive play, the Orange were 15th in the nation in team opponent effective field goal percentage.
Jackson Rowe, CSU Fullerton
Another young Canadian whose found immediate success in college, Jackson Rowe has been a cornerstone of CSU Fullerton team that received an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2008. Rowe put up 12.2 points and 6.8 boards per game, and was a member of the All Tournament Team after the Big West Conference Tourney.
Justin Jackson, Maryland
Despite being out for the remainder of the 2018-2018 season, Justin Jackson’s impact for the Maryland Terrapins has been too great to ignore. Prior to getting injured, the Sophomore forward nearly averaged a double-double for the Terrapins with 9.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in hopes to leading his team to a fourth straight tournament appearance. However, Jackson not only impacted the box score, but how the Terrapins played altogether.
MiKyle McIntosh, Oregon
McIntosh played his year for Dana Altman and Oregon since transferring in from Illinois State for his final year of eligibility. Over the last 17 games of the season McIntosh put up 15 points per game for an Oregon team that just fell on the wrong side of the bubble. MiKyle McIntosh capped his collegiate career on a very strong note.