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 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 the 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, are 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 Gilgeous-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. An efficient natural stat-stuffer, he’s averaging 10.1 points, a team-high 4.4 assists per game alongside 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 offence. Carr’s strong play has propelled the Panthers to an early four-game winning streak. The pass-first guard scored a career-best 23 points in an 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 get under your chin with defensive pressure.