Canadian talent dunking on college hoops
Andrew Wiggins leads a group of talented Canucks
Todd Colin Vaughan
The NBA for over the past decade was a wasteland for Canadian talent, outside of two-time MVP Steve Nash. Things are-a-changin’.
With March Madness set to tip off on March 20 across America, several Canadians are looking to dominate their tournament foes, and move onto the NBA draft in force.
Sometimes, expectations are far too high.
For NCAA freshman phenom and citizen of the true North Strong and Free, Andrew Wiggins, the expectations for him coming out of high school were that he would be Lebron James. Expectations met Wiggins the first day he stepped foot on the hardwood of the University of Kansas, home of Dr. James Naismith — Canadian inventor of basketball.
No, Wiggins hasn’t quite reached the level of the best basketball player still playing in the NBA (MJ is still the best ever). The quiet kid from Vaughan, Ontario has had an excellent season in the NCAA college basketball circuit. He capped off with a 42 point game in a loss to West Virginia.
Heading into the fabled 64-team, single-game elimination, NCAA March Madness tournament, the small forward is averaging 17.39 ppg, 5.97 rpg and shooting nearly 45 per cent from the floor. Wiggins has upped his scoring average to over 31 ppg in the last three games. This after the projected Number one pick Joel Embiid, Wiggins Star freshman running mate, went down with a back injury.
Wiggins is looking to make some noise in the tournament and the Kansas Jayhawks seem to have a fairly easy bracket, with an early game against 15th seeded Eastern Kentucky, with seventh seeded New Mexico likely meeting them in the second round.
Regardless of how the always-unpredictable NCAA tournament shakes down, Wiggins has guaranteed a place in the Top 5 of the 2014 NBA draft with his stellar play, which is a sign of star potential at the professional level.
A plethora of Canadian talent
Luckily for Canada, Wiggins is just the top of the class of talented Maple-Leaf-repping ball players in the NCAA that will likely be drafted in the first round of the draft.
Tyler Ennis, the mildly scouted Syracuse Orangeman point guard, set the ACC division ablaze this season averaging 12.7 ppg, nearly six assists and three steals. Ennis is expected to fall between 10-20 in the draft and is slated to be an excellent floor general and clutch shooter at the professional level.
Syracuse, a three seed, will face 14th seeded Western Michigan and will likely go on to face Ohio State — if this writers bracket was picked correctly.
Finally, Nik Stauskas, the sophomore guard for the Michigan Wolverines, is slated to be a premier three-point shooter in the NBA — shooting over 48.5 per cent. He has also developed his face-up game during his second season, now being able to create his own shot.
Don’t sleep on Stauskas being your typical friendly Canadian though, after dropping 19 points against rivals Michigan State Spartans on the road, the Canuck blew a kiss to a volatile Spartan crowd.
The two-seeded Wolverines play 15th seeded Wofford State before going forward to play the winner of Texas and Arizona State.
Canada making its mark
Wiggins, Stauskas and Ennis will join an already growing crop of premier Canadian talent in the NBA which includes: Cleveland Cavalier’s power forward Tristan Thompson, the 2013 first overall pick forward Anthony Bennett; and the San Antonio Spurs back up point guard Corey Joseph, who’s been on fire recently.
This young group of talent has high aspirations of leading Canada basketball — managed by two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and coached by former Olympian and ex-Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano — to international success.
Hopefully, under the leadership of Wiggins, our Canuck round-ballers will be able to return to the Olympics and medal for the first time since winning silver in the Berlin 1936 games.