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.
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.
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