Canadian sharpshooter Nate Darling (Bedford, NS) wrapped-up an excellent opening NCAA week with a 37-point career-high explosion to help the Delaware Blue Hens win the 2019 Sunshine Slam tournament.
The Blue Hens defeat the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Road Runners 91-79 to remain unbeaten at 4-0 for the first time since 1999-2000.
Darling buried 12-of-19 field goals, including 8-of-10 triples and 5-of-6 free-throws in 40 minutes of action in the non-conference win.
“I got in the zone where the ball was constantly going in, and was just living in the moment. I’ve built confidence in myself and my teammates, and Kevin and Ryan take the pressure off me as well. UTSA started doubling me and Kevin really took over down the stretch, so kudos to him.”
The Bedford, Nova Scotia native connected on 19 first-half points and caught fire in the second-half by scoring the Blue Hens first 18 points of the half — increasing his total to 37 points with 10:28 in remaining in the game.
The 6’5″ red-shirt junior transferred from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) after two seasons and scored 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting, plus 6 rebounds in the Blue Hens win over Oakland Golden Grizzlies. The former Nova Scotia basketball standout was equally impressive with 20 points and 6 rebounds in the win over the Southern Illinois Salukis.
Darling averaged 25.7 points per game, shot 26-of-49 (53%) from the floor and knocked down 17-of-27 (63%) triples on his way to be being named MVP of the tournament. Fellow Canadian guard Kevin Kangu (Burlington, Ont.) was also named to the all-tournament team.
The Blues will look to keep their perfect start alive when they take on the Lafayette Leopards on November 16.
Montreal’s Bennedict Mathurin commits to Arizona Wildcats
The Arizona Wildcats got a big time commitment from Bennedict Mathurin — Canada’s top guard in the class of 2020.
The 17-year old Mathurin opted to reclassify from the 2021 class — fast tracking his potential NBA eligibility in the process. Standing at 6’6″, 195 pounds, the Montreal native has all the attributes to make an immediate impact at the NCAA division I basketball level — with a NBA ceiling written all-over his resume.
Perhaps not a household commodity, due to his lack of participation in any Canadian FIBA youth sanctioned events — Mathurin was named MVP of the 2019 Canadian National Basketball U17 Championships in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
The Canadian guard/forward led a loaded Quebec team to a perfect 5-0 record — claiming the province’s first U17 title since 2010. Mathurin dominated the entire tournament, including a electric, eye-popping 33 point, 7 assist, 6 rebound performance in the opening game against Team Ontario.
In the championship game against same Ontario squad, Mathurin was equally impressive — scoring 23 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in the 84-77 victory.
Mathurin is currently showcasing and strutting his growing all-around game in Mexico City as part of NBA Academy Latin America — an elite basketball training center for top male and female prospects across the Caribbean Central and South America.
The Canadian prospect kicked off 2020 and new decade in style with a 30-point, 6 rebounds outburst in a 93-74 win over FC Barcelona U18 team at the Hospitalet tournament.
A lockdown defender with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander like wingspan, Mathurin has the ability to get from the three-point line to the rim with just one dribble. At 6”6′ he’s also able to see over much smaller defenders and is a willing and effective passer that looks to attack at rim can finish with through contact.
Part of the continuous and overflowing rising crop of future NBA talent from Canada’s second largest city — Mathurin may just be the top guard to come out of Montreal since current Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort pledged allegiance to the desert State of Arizona.
Holding multiple offers from the likes of NCAA basketball programs as Virginia, Alabama, Washington State and Nebraska — Mathurin narrowed his decision to the Arizona Wildcats and Oregon Ducks.
“Those two schools were my finalists because the other schools recruited me a little later, and I said to myself, that if I was going to visit other schools it was going to take a lot more time to get to know the coaching staff and also lots of time to get to know for example who (players) was coming back and leaving.” discussed a well spoken Mauthrin in a live french announcement during half-time of the Toronto Raptors’ and OKC Thunder game.
On what tipped the balance between the two finalist schools, Mauthrin added that the “history of Arizona, the style of play and the fact that every player has a role, and that is my style of play.”
For head coach Sean Miller the commitment of Mauthrin is a significant scoop for a player that was just starting to gain national notoriety and will likely mature into another future Canadian NBA player.
Abu Kigab career night powers Boise State Broncos
Canadian Abu Kigab (St. Catherines, Ont.) dropped a career best 33 points, 11 rebounds to power the Boise State Broncos 103-72 past the CSU Northridge Matadors.
The 6’7″, 211-pound junior forward was efficient as a heat pump, knocking down a hot 11-of-16 field-goals, 3-of-4 triples and 8-of-9 free-throws in just 26 minutes — including a two-hand alley-oop — to bring the home crowd to it’s feet while recording his 30th point.
Kigab’s output is one the best performances by a Canadian playing NCAA DI basketball and as per the Broncos’ public relations team “It’s just the 17th 30 & 10 game all-time by a Bronco and seventh in the last 25 years.” Chicago Bulls’ rookie Chandler Hutchison was the last Boise State player to reach the milestone — erupting for 39 points and 14 rebounds at the 2018 NIT.
“We were all making the right play and some nights that’s just how it is,” Kigab said. “I just go out there and try to win the game. I’ll do whatever it takes. Sometimes I might have to score more, sometimes I need to rebound more, sometimes I need to pass more. Whatever my team needs, that’s what I’ll do.”
Highly recruited coming out high school, Kigab was part of the historic Canadian national team that captured the country’s first-ever basketball gold medal at the 2017 U19 World Cup. The hybrid forward averaged a double-double with 14.7 points and 10.6 rebounds — earning a nod in the all-world all-star team alongside MVP RJ Barrett.
Abu Kigab commits to Oregon Ducks
The St. Catherine’s product committed to the Oregon Ducks — playing a season and half before opting to transfer to Boise State. Kigab showed promise in his first three games under Dana Altman hitting double-figures scoring in all three non-conference games before completely falling out of the rotation. In 45 games with the Ducks, Kigab scored just a total of 82 points while playing only 418 minutes.
Since becoming eligible and joining the Broncos starting lineup on December 22, Kigab has helped the team to a 3-1 record — including two straight double-doubles and has scored a total of 64 points.
Based on early results it’s fair to say that the change in scenery and shift from the Pac 12 brand of basketball to the Mountain West Conference (MWC) has benefited Kigab’s game.
The Broncos compete in the tough Mountain West Conference with the likes of San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico and Nevada. The Conference has a history with Canadians and holds the title of producing former Running Rebel and No. 1 NBA pick Anthony Bennett. The MWC currently features eight Canadians across multiple teams — including Elijah Mitrou-Long (UNLV), Nolan Narain, Sabry Philip and others.