There’s a new wave of rising Canadians basketball players making an early NCAA splash. Below we take a look at freshmen players that are making their mark on the college basketball landscape. Like previous years, look for most of the names on this list to become household names come March Madness and a select few to continue Canada’s NBA takeover.
Oshea Brissett – Syracuse Orange
Brissett has been arguably the best freshman in college basketball. The 6’8″, 210 lbs forward from Mississauga, Ontario is beasting the opposition, averaging 13.6 points per game, including a team-high 9.2 rebounds (55th in all of the nation.) A true special talent, he has already racked-up four double-doubles in his first eight games, missing two more by just a single rebound. Look for Brissett to continue his torrid start to season as he helps the Syracuse Orange make a run at a conference title in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Although early in the season, Brissett is looking more and more like a true one and done prospect. Expect a green room invitation come June 2018 at NBA Draft.
Lindell Wigginton – Iowa State Cyclones
Looking for stability at the guard position? Well, look no further than Lindell Wigginton. A true versatile bucket getter, with major hops (38″ vertical), he currently leads all Canadian freshmen in scoring at 16.3 points per game while contributing in other aspects with 4 rebounds and 2.6 assists. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia product is shooting a healthy 46.3 % from the field, 48.9% from three-pointers and has reached double-figures scoring in 7-of-9 games, including a season best 28-points, 7 rebound performance against Northern Illinois. Although, the tougher part of the Big 12 conference schedule remains, it is clear that in less than ten games Wigginton has solidified himself as a go to option in the fast paced Cyclones offensive system. Expect the 6’2″, 188 lbs guard to flourish all-season long as he looks to fulfill is long time dream of playing in the NBA.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker – Virginia Tech Hokies
Talk about talent. Standing 6’5″ tall, weighing-in at 210-pounds, is Toronto, Ontario freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker. A diamond in the rough find for head coach Buzz Williams and Virgina Tech. The Hokies, traditionally not a prime destination for top Canadian prospects is seeing just how special Alexander-Walker can be early-on. The 19-year-old kicked-off his NCAA career with scoring outbursts against Detroit Mercy (24 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) and Citadel (29 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) and is an integral reason for the Hokies early season success. A knock-down shooter (.529%, FG% .477% 3-pointers) with a 7-footer wing-span Alexander Walker is averaging 14.4 per game, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. A triple-threat, he is comfortable handling the rock as well as, dishing off no looks, as he is scoring.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Kentucky Wildcats
It’s hard to talk about Shai-Gilgenous-Alexander (6’6″, 180 lbs, Hamilton/ON) without mentioning the aforementioned Nickeil Alexander-Walker. After-all, both are cousins, their names resemble each other, their games even more. What-else, they played, dominated and caused headaches for coaches as a dynamic high school back-court duo for Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, winning a State title along the way. Now they find themselves on the biggest stage of college basketball doing similar things for highly respected basketball teams. Despite coming off the bench Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 28.2 minutes per game, good for second on a team that also features a bevy of NBA prospects, including Hamidou Diallo, P.J Washington. A efficient natural stat-stuffer he’s averaging 10.1 points, a team-high 4.4 assists per game along side 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.
Marcus Carr – Pittsburgh Panthers
A true floor general, Marcus Carr (6’1″, 185 lbs, Toronto/ON) has taken charge and ignited the Pittsburgh Panthers rebuilding offense. Carr’s strong play has propel the Panthers to a early four-game winning streak. The pass-first guard scored a career-best 23 points in a overtime win over St. Mary’s and has scored in double-digits in the five of the past six Panthers contests. Currently averaging 12 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds, including shooting a 48% from the field, 48.1% from downtown and Steve Nash like 921% from the charity stripe. Despite his size Carr is strong enough to finish through contact and loves to gets under your chin with defensive pressure.
New Wave Canadian Freshmen Making Early NCAA Splash
New Wave Canadian Basketball Freshmen Making NCAA Splash
Canadian Lindell Wigginton Iowa State Cyclones NCAA
Nickeil Alexander Walker Virginia Tech Hookies New Wave Canadian NCAA Freshmen
Oshea Brissett–Syracuse Orange New Wave Canadian NCAA Freshmen
Oshea Brissett New Wave Canadian NCAA Freshmen
Marcus Carr Pittsburg Panthers New Wave Canadian NCAA Freshmen
Shai Gilgeous Alexander Kentucky Wildcats New Wave Canadian NCAA Freshmen
The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina Ionescu
There’s no business, like unfinished business.
Most great basketball stars take their smartphone penmanship to ‘The Players Tribune’ to announce a change of game and mind move to greener pastures, which seems to be the new trend like Kung Fu Kenny headbands. But not the green duck of Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu. In a pen drop moment she dropped the mic as she made a declaration like Leonardo DiCaprio staring at all that love in the boardroom in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’.
“I’m not f##### leaving!”
O.K. she didn’t say it quite like that. Rather more eloquently in the form of a love letter to her state and basketball mind. She may have that Eurostep stop on a dime from downtown that puts in that change and pops the button like James Harden. She may have film broke down by the mamba mentality of the one and only Kobe Bryant. Or articles wrote about her by this writers’ writing inspiration Shea Serrano of The Ringer. She may have even gone number one if she put in her draft card this year.
But the WNBA can wait.
Green with envy and legendary shades she may be the next great of this game like the Storm of Sue Bird to Breanna Stewart. She’s the type of player that’s so good to watch she could even get away with taking more steps than ladders like most of those NBA folks. But no! An inspired Ionescu is doing things the right way. After being made by Baylor, the ducks will quack again. And they will do so with their top billing. Sabrina will return for one last run. She’s got the rest of her playing career to be a WNBA legend for whatever team from the Sparks to Mercury picks her. But the Pac-12 Wade trophy winner has only got one last chance at a Final Four dance after the madness that is March.
Just look at the above picture. She’s only got so long for this. To be a kid. She may be far from ‘Sabrina The Teenage Witch’, but this maturing talent is still young. To be that again, we should just be happy she still has that chance. One chance to make the Ducks mighty again. To have those best years of your life with the best friends you’ll ever meet. These are her memories. Her signed sneakers and scissored nets. Who are any of us to take that away. We can wait. As her parquet paths next year to the big leagues will be like this season’s road to Zion.
The two time Nancy Lieberman award winner will take her L ready 19.9 points, 8.2 assists and 7.4 rebounds averages to one last ride and stand in Oregon. Flying with the 18 record of the most career triple doubles in NCAA history. She won’t be in New York next month, but she’ll be writing in more history books next year as other teams bet it all on some bouncing balls. And if you think this game is all about the big league and the big payday, then this outstanding Oregon statement doesn’t give a duck.
“I won’t predict exactly how far we’re going to go….. but I’ll just say this. We have unfinished business. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”
Time to get back to work and take everyone back to school.
R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson make All-America First Team
Canada’s most-hyped recruit makes history.
Canada’s R.J. Barrett has been named a first-team Associated Press All-American, and finished second in AP Player of the Year voting to teammate Zion Williamson.
Barrett and Williamson, who led Duke to the NCAA men’s basketball Elite Eight this season, are only the second set of freshmen teammates to make the AP First Team.
Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were the first to manage the feat in 2010.
Barrett (Mississauga, Ont.) was one of Duke’s most effective players, averaging 22.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
He received two votes for AP Player of the Year, but Williamson — who electrified fans with his other-worldly athleticism — was the runaway winner.
Williamson, the projected No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, received 59 of 64 votes for the award.
Murray State’s Ja Morant, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter and Michigan State’s Cassius Winston were the only others players to receive votes, with one apiece.
Barrett is also a projected NBA lottery pick, and is the most-hyped Canadian recruit since Andrew Wiggins, who went No. 1 overall in 2014.
Wiggins has struggled to live up to the hype that surrounded him in high school, and Barrett has faced similarly colossal expectations.
Barrett entered Duke as the nation’s top recruit after winning a national U.S. high school championship with Florida’s Montverde Academy in 2018.
And there have been gripes about his perceived effectiveness in comparison to the media coverage he has received.
An anonymous survey of 110 U.S. college players by The Athletic this year named Barrett college basketball’s most overrated player.
But in the same poll Barrett also receive votes for “best player in the game,” and he was routinely praised for his performances Duke.
USA Today also named Barrett its 2019 national college player of the year.
“While Zion Williamson might beat Barrett for the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft, Barrett proved to be the more impressive college player,” USA Today wrote.
“The freshman carried the load when Williamson was hurt for six games, spearheading the Blue Devils to three wins in March that helped them become the NCAA tournament’s top overall seed.
“When Duke was at full strength, he gave the team a scorer who wanted the ball at the end of the game.”
Some have speculated Barrett’s ceiling as a pro will be similar to that of mid-level stars like DeMar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler.
He is still projected as a top-three pick in the NBA Draft, scheduled for June 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Barrett is the son of Canada Basketball general manager and former Olympian Rowan Barrett, and R.J. has been a fixture in Canada’s national program.
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