The road to the NBA goes, for the most part, through the NCAA. That road was paved by the likes of the greatest Canadian to ever touch the hardwood, Steve Nash (Santa Clara) and Tristan Thompson (Texas), who was the highest selection in the NBA draft for a Canadian player (fourth overall).
There has been a noticeable influx of Canadian talent south of the boarder over the past three years. Names like Devoe and Cory Joseph, Robert Sacre, and Andy Rautins have all made their marks on their respective university programs. It’s hard to say what the reason is for the spike in Canadian talent, one can only assume that Steve Nash and his MVP trophies have a little bit to do with it.
Not to say that all of these players listed will be making names for themselves at the NBA level, but they are certainly helping their programs right now. So here they are, in no particular order.
Nik Stauskas, Mississauga, ON. Freshman, No. 2 Michigan Wolverines
Stauskas started the season off with a very impressive 17 point performance, where he showed off that sweet stroke from outside, going 4-6 from beyond the arc. He has since earned a spot in the starting rotation by contributing 12.6 points per game and converting on 49.5 percent (14th in the NCAA) of his shots from three point land. If you haven’t seem this kid shoot, check out some of his YouTube videos, the kid has game from distance.
Olynyk is a 7′ forward who is leading his team in scoring with 18 points a contest, while contributing on the glass as well with 6.8 rebounds a game. There was a lot of concern about Olynyk coming into this season regarding his progress as an overall player following a disappointing sophomore season. All those concerns have since been quashed.
Kevin Pangos, Newmarket, ON. Sophomore, No. 10 Gonzaga Bulldogs
Joining fellow Canadian Olynyk on the Bulldogs has given life to both Olynyk and the Bulldogs team. After a stellar freshman season which saw Pangos come off the bench before starting the rest of the season. In his first start Pangos erupted for 33 points on 9-13 shooting from behind the three point line. Pangos was put on the preseason list for Player of the Year honours this season.
Anthony Bennett, Brampton, ON. Freshman, UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
The 6’8″ forward has certainly put his name on the map this season. With his 18.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, Bennett is looking to possibly make the jump to the NBA this year. He is also leading UNLV to a 15-4 record and as the season goes on, it is looking more likely that we will be seeing what Bennett can do at the highest level in the NCAA, March Madness.
Myck Kabongo, Toronto, ON. Sophomore, Texas Longhorns
It would be nearly impossible to compile a list of Canadian talent in the NCAA without throwing Kabongo in it. After a Freshman season that saw him put up 9.6 points and 5.2 assists a game for the Longhorns, Kabongo ran into a little bit of trouble during the offseason. After electing to return to Texas for his sophomore season, Kabongo was nearly suspended for the duration of this year for accepting impermissible benefits from an agent. The Longhorns appealed the suspension and Kabongo is set to make his season debut on February 13 for the 8-10 Longhorns.
Andrew Wiggins, Thornhill, ON. High school Senior, Huntington Prep
Now I know Wiggins isn’t in university yet, but he is bar none the most talked about Canadian basketball player who isn’t in the NBA. Wiggins has the potential to be the highest Canadian selected in the draft, taking a top three spot in the 2014 draft. Wiggins sits as the number one high school recruit and has yet to commit to an NCAA school, but you can only assume the team he goes to will be one of the best.