The Madness is over. The transfer portal is on fire and Canadians continue to chase their ultimate basketball dream by the declaring for the NBA Draft in growing numbers.
A unique year like no other, the 2020-21 NCAA basketball season allowed players to participate and transfer to a different school without losing eligibility, essentially giving student-athletes a free year of playing experience and exposure.
The result has created a NBA like free-agency atmosphere in college basketball. Furthermore, and combined with the upcoming introduction of paid sponsorship opportunities for student-athletes set to be introduced as early as the upcoming 2021-22 season — means the NCAA college basketball game has forever changed.
The 2020 NBA Draft ended Canada’s unbelievable streak of ten straight years with a player drafted into the NBA. Despite zero players selected, Canadian basketball history was still made, as both Nate Darling and Karim Mane were quickly scooped-up after the Draft as highly regarded developmental pieces.
Darling, becoming the first player from Nova Scotia to play in a NBA game and Montreal’s Mane, the first player to make the enormous leap from a Canadian College Athletic Association (CCAA) school to the world’s best basketball league.
Nine Canadians declare for 2021 NBA Draft
The 2021 NBA Draft, promises to start a new streak with new and familiar faces declaring and testing the NBA waters. A total of nine (9) Canadian basketball players have announced their intentions in time for the early underclassmen deadline. Overall, according to the 2020-21 Canadian NCAA Men’s Basketball Stats Tracker, six (6) of the top ten Canadian NCAA basketball players from the 2020-21 season have declared for the 2021 NBA Draft.
Utah Valley Wolverines forward Fardaws Aimaq (Richmond, B.C) opened-up a lot of eyes by leading the entire NCAA Division I in rebounding. Oregon Ducks seniors’ Eugene Omoruyi (Rexdale, Ont.) and Chris Duarte (Montreal, Que.) opted to forgo the opportunity of an additional NCAA season, instead choosing to get ready for the NBA.
No strangers to the NBA Draft process, Minnesota’s Marcus Carr (Toronto, Ont.) and South Carolina’s AJ Lawson (Brampton, Ont.) have once again entered their names in the sweepstakes.
Alabama’s 18-year-old freshman Joshua Primo (Mississauga, Ont.) becomes one of the youngest Canadians to ever declare for the NBA Draft. Jahvon Blair (Brampton, Ont.) has been one of the most consistent Canadian players in the NCAA during his four years with the Georgetown Hoyas.
Finally, a pair of Nebraska Cornhuskers’ teammates decided to test the NBA Draft waters. Shamiel Stevenson (Toronto, Ont.) an athletic and defensive minded guard looks kick-off his pro career and prove that he belongs at the next level. Lastly, Stevenson’s teammate, Dalano Banton (Toronto, Ont.) beat the deadline at the buzzer.
2021 NBA Draft set for July 29th
The NBA Draft is set for July 29 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the deadline for early entry players to withdraw from the process is July 19. The NBA Draft Combine will take place during the week of June 21-27 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois and the June 22nd Draft Lottery will determine which team will get the top pick and define the selection order.
Below is a complete list of all the Canadian NCAA basketball player that have declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, including a comparison chart of their 2020-21 NCAA basketball stats. For further evaluation, we have also included, photos and video highlights for each player.
Fardaws Aimaq – Utah Valley Wolverines
Talk about raising your stock. Virtually unknown, prior to the 2020-21 season, Richmond, B.C Fardaws Aimaq catapulted to the top of the rebounding leaderboard, becoming the first Canadian basketball player to lead the NCAA in rebounding. Aimaq also became the first NCAA Division I player since 1980 to average 15 or more rebounds per game in a single season.
The recently turned 22-year-old finished the season averaging a big sized double-double of 13.9 points, 15.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists in 22 games. He also shot 48.5 percent from the field this season. The Canadian big men racked-up a career-high 25 rebounds against Dixie State and finished his sophomore season with three games with 20 or more rebounds, falling to reach double-digits in the statistical category in just two games.
“I will be entering the 2021 NBA Draft, but will maintain my collegiate eligibility throughout the process.” I want to purse my ultimate goal of becoming a professional basketball player and playing in the NBA. I will go through the process to showcase my talent, develop my game, learn the system, and to get feedback so that I can achieve my professional dream.
Aimaq, has been hard at work preparing for the Draft and has dropped significant body fat.
Eugene Omoruyi – Oregon Ducks
Faced with the decision of choosing to return to college basketball, Eugene Omoruyi decided it was time to kick-off his professional career.
A beast on the defensive end, Omoruyi is a 1000-point career-scorer who has a lot of similarities to former Villanova Wildcats and current Golden State Warriors forward Eric Paschall. The 22-year Canadian started all of the Ducks 28-games, putting-up averages of 17 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 steals in 30.6 minutes per game.
“I cannot express how grateful I am to have ended up at the University of Oregon, the best school in the country,” Omoruyi wrote in his Instagram post. “Although I’ve had a long journey to get to this point, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to finish my college basketball career.”
Omoruyi had one the best games by a Canadian in a NCAA March Madness tournament racking a big double-double to close his career as Oregon fell to USC in the final eight.
AJ Lawson – South Carolina Gamecocks
The third time is the charm. 100% percent ready and committed to his goal. Declaring for the NBA Draft for the third straight year, AJ Lawson has decided its time to go all in and purse his ultimate dream of playing in the NBA.
The growth in AJ Lawson’s game is not only evident by is improvement across all the major statistical categories, but more importantly by how mature and confident he has became during his three seasons at South Carolina.
As a junior, Lawson averaged a career-high 16.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 21 games for the South Carolina, shot 39.4% on field goals, 35.1% three pointers and 70% from the foul-line.
“They say growth is not linear. It’s more like the rocky mountains. There have been ups and downs, throughout my journey at every level that I’m proud off. The obstacles are what have helped me grow. I have worked and prepared for this moment my entire life, and with that, I am declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft, signing with an agent.”
Jahvon Blair – Georgetown Hoyas
Jahvon Blair has been of Canada’s most consistent players at the NCAA level for the past four years. Playing under the guidance of former Georgetown and NBA legend Patrick Ewing, has allowed the Canadian guard the opportunity to grow and flourish and join the 1000-plus point scorers club.
The six-foot-four guard increased his production in each of his four seasons, culminating as the team’s top scorer, leading to career-highs across the board during his final year. Blair’s 15.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists in 34.7 minutes were instrumental in the Hoyas return to the 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament for the first time since 2015.
“Playing in the NBA has always been a life long dream of mine. It’s been an honor to be able to wear the same jersey as all of the Georgetown greats. To coach Ewing and the rest of the coaching staff thank you for always pushing me, holding me accountable and always challenging me to be the best version of myself, both on and off the court.”
“After taking the time to explore all options. I’ve decided to enter the 2021 NBA Draft and begin my professional career. I will forgo my extra year of eligibility with the intent of signing with an agent.”
Joshua Primo – Alabama Crimson Tide
Joshua Primo, one of the youngest Canadian basketball prospects to ever declare for the NBA Draft could very well be the steal of the draft. The 18-year-old Primo broke out on the scene at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup and has been on the NBA radar since opening more eyes at the 2020 Basketball Without Borders camp during the NBA All-Star 2020 weekend in Chicago.
During his freshman season Primo cracked the starting lineup nineteen (19) times, appearing in 30 of the Crimson Tide’s 33 total games. The Mississauga native scored in double-figures twelve (12) times on his way to respectable averages of 8.1 points, 3.4 rebounds on 43.1% percent shooting (84-195 attempts) and 38.1% percent (43-103 attempts) from three-pointers.
“I have always had the aspirations to play in the NBA since I was little. I feel that now is the time for me to take that step towards my dream. With that being said, I am excited to announced that I will be declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft. I will be signing with an NCAA certified agent to keep the option of returning to the University of Alabama men’s basketball team next season.”
Chris Duarte – Oregon Ducks
Chris Duarte may not be very familiar to Canadian basketball fans given his dual citizenship status. Born in Montreal, Quebec but raised in the Dominican Republic, the former 2019-18 Junior College (JUCO) national player of the year at Northwest Florida added to his growing hardware collection.
Duarte, was arguably the most efficient Canadian player this season, as per the 2020-21 Canadian NCAA Men’s Basketball Stats Tracker. The six-foot-five guard averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.9 steals in 26 games for Oregon. The smooth stroking guard with resemblances to Golden State Warriors’ all-star Klay Thompson, knocked down 53.2% percent of his field goals, 42.4% percent from three-pointers and 81% from the foul-line.
For his efforts Duarte was named the 2021 Pac-12 player of the year and was named the recipient of the 2021 Jerry West Award as the nation’s top collegiate shooting guard.
“I transferred to Oregon not knowing what to expect, and I can say with confidence that over the last two years because of the amazing people here, I am leaving a better man and a much-improved player. I was fortunate enough to play for one of the best coaching staffs in the country and most importantly to play in front of the best fans in the country. I will be entering the 2021 NBA Draft and signing with icon Legacy Group to represent me during the next step of my basketball journey.”
Shamiel Stevenson – Nebraska Cornhuskers
Shamiel Stevenson returned to collegiate basketball for the first time since playing just four games during his sophomore season in December 2018. The athletic Canadian guard was forced to sit out the 2019 season after declaring to the Pittsburgh Panthers and transferring to Nebraska.
Playing limited minutes (14 per game) in a crowded Cornhuskers nine-men rotation, Stevenson averaged 5.5 points, 2.4 rebounds in 26 games. Stevenson reached double-figures scoring five times including a season-best 14 points, twice against McNeese State and Minnesota.
“This journey has come with many ups and downs, and I have been blessed enough to get through everything to this point. With that being said, after exploring my options with my family, I would like to announce that I will enter the 2021 NBA Draft, with the intent of hiring an agent.”
Marcus Carr – Minnesota Golden Gophers
There’s really not much left to say about Marcus Carr’s game. Arguably one of the best Canadian basketball scoring guards in NCAA basketball history, Carr elevated his game to another level during his junior season.
The six-foot-two, 195-pound guard finished as the top Canadian scorer with averages of 19.1 points, 4.9 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 29 games for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Carr finished third in the Big Ten in both points and assists per game and was named Third-Team all-conference.
The Toronto, Ontario native put his name in exclusive Canadian basketball history by becoming just the tenth player to score 40-plus points in a NCAA basketball game — exploding for a career-high 41-points against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Over three seasons at Pitt and Minnesota, Carr has started 87 of 92 games while amassing 1,361 career points, 473 assists, 370 rebounds and 85 steals while shooting 33.6 percent from 3-point range with a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine since I was a kid. After speaking with my family and coaches, I have decided to enter my name into the 2021 NBA Draft. Thank you to everybody who has helped me and pushed me to get to this point. Thank you Golpher Nation for being a part of my journey.”
Dalano Banton – Nebraska Cornhuskers
Forced to sit out the 2019-20 season after transferring from Western Kentucky, Canadian Dalano Banton returned to the hardwood, playing his first season for former Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg.
Banton averaged 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. The junior guard shot .411% percent from field-goal, .247 percent from three-pointers and .659% from the foul-line.
The 6-foot-9 sophomore guard from Toronto, Ontario showcased his full repertoire and became just the Canadian fourth-player to record a triple-double in an official NCAA basketball game with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists in the 110-64 blowout win over Doane University. Other to record triple doubles include, Syracuse’s Leo Rautins (1983 vs. Boston College), Duke’s R.J Barrett (2019 vs. NC State) and Godwin Boahen (2016 vs. Roosevelt (NAIA) .
“These past 2 years at Nebraska have put me in a position to chase my lifelong dreams of being an NBA player. Thanks to all my family, teammates, coaches and support staff for the support, encouragement and advice. With that being said, I am declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft with the option to return to Nebraska. Thank you Husker nation for the never ending support”.