The college hardwood season is almost over but it also brings the most intense basketball tournament of the year – the NCAA Tournament. 64 teams look to win of the course of three weekends until the champion is crowned. The annual tournament is filled with fandom, high emotions and it’s fair share of highlight reel hoops in what can only be described as March Madness. Every year there is a growing amount of Canadian players playing in the NCAA and that in turn means more are playing in the tournament. There will be a combined 42 men and women participating in this year’s edition of the “Big Dance” and we have a list of some of the players we think should be making big contributions to their respective teams and could ultimately help determine if their schools are able to survive and advance.
RJ Barrett, Duke
Key Stats: 22.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 34.9 minutes
The most heralded Canadian high school player, arguably ever, Mississauga’s Barrett was a First Team All-American this year as a true freshman. The finesse to the Zion Williamson power for the Blue Devils, expect him to be prominent in a long NCAA Tournament run that could end at the title game.
Marial Shayok, Iowa St
Key Stats: 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2 assists, 32.7 minutes, 49.4 FG%, 38.9 3-PT%, 88.3 FT%,
Shayok, an Ottawa native, was an All-Big 12 Conference First Team performer this year leading his team in scoring as a senior transfer. He’s had experience in the NCAA Tournament when he was at Virginia, and Iowa St will go as far as he can lead them.
Lindell Wigginton, Iowa St
Key Stats – 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 25.8 minutes, 38.1 3-PT%
Wigginton was limited by injury early in the year but found his form mid-season to become the bench catalyst for the Cyclones. When the North Preston, Nova Scotia native has the hot hand, he looks like the projected NBA Draft pick he was last year as a freshman.
Iggy Brazdeikis, Michigan
Key Stats – 15.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 29.8 minutes, 42 3-PT%
Brazdeikis was the best freshman in the Big 10 Conference this season and lives to play under the bright lights. The Oakville, Ontario, product can play inside or outside and has the confidence to let you know the ball should be in his hands.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech
Key Stats – 16.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.9 steals, 34.5 minutes, 38.1 3-PT%
The quick and long Alexander-Walker is a key two-way cog in the Virginia Tech machine. The Toronto cousin of current LA Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the team’s top scorer and assist man and will be a big reason the Hokies advance through the tournament.
Oshae Brissett, Syracuse
Key Stats: 12.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 steal, 32.8 minutes
Mississauga’s Brissett has been playing with potential NBA teammates but he’s been the team’s most consistent player all season. The versatile sophomore does everything very well on the court and could be the X-factor for Syracuse.
Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
Key Stats: 16.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Gonzaga’s Clarke is best Canadian player no one knows about. Born in Vancouver but living mostly in Phoenix, he’s quietly been the steady defender, rebounder and scorer behind potential NBA Lottery Pick Rui Hachimura. This could Clarke’s time to steal the spotlight.
Mfiondu Kabengale, Florida St
Key Stats: 12.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 21.1 minutes
Kabengale is a rare player that leads his team in scoring as a non-starter. He’s a big body that shoots threes and can put down a highlight dunk. Florida St is a very deep team but expect the Burlington, Ontario, big man to put up some big numbers, especially if he stays out of foul trouble.
Luguentz Dort, Arizona St
Key Stats – 16.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 31.6 minutes
Montreal’s Dort is a force of nature! He’s a chiseled 6’4” guard that can score at will and defend just about anybody. He was named PAC-12 Conference Freshman of the Year and the Arizona St’s NCAA Tournament fortunes could rest on his broad shoulders.
Bridget Carleton, Iowa St
Key Stats – 21.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.2 blocks, 35 minutes, 36.2 3-PT%,
Carleton led her team in just about every major statistical category on her way to being named Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. Iowa St’s offense centers on the star from Chatham, Ontario, so expect her either scoring or setting up a teammate to score. The senior leader will pull out all stops to make her last NCAA Tournament a memorable one.
Aislinn Konig, NC State
Key Stats – 11 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 36.2 minutes, 40.8 3-PT%
Surrey’s Konig is engine behind the NC State. She’s moved to the full-time point guard spot this year and has been a steady presence on defense. Expect her to help facilitate her teammates to buckets and a win or three also.
Hanna Hall, Buffalo
— CanBallRay (@CanBallReport) March 23, 2019
Key Stats – 6.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 25.4 minutes, 38.2 3-PT%
Hall has been a different player this season. The sophomore from Hamilton has started 22 games providing consistent 3-point shooting as well as a secondary ball-handler. She’s had some big games this year in extended minutes and on this stage I’d expect Hall to find a way to play to the moment.
Hailey Brown, Michigan
— Michigan Women’s Basketball (@umichwbball) March 10, 2019
Key Stats – 7.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 23.5 minutes, 34.3 3-PT%
Hamilton, Ontario’s, Brown may have had her averages dip but she’s been solid in her court time. With a deep team she’s still capable of more when needed. She missed the NCAA Tournament last season as a freshman because of a late season injury so expect her to be at her best.
Shay Colley, Michigan St
Key Stats – 14.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 30 minutes, 88.1 FT%
Colley is one of the best Canadian ladies playing the NCAA. Despite missing six games to injury this year the Brampton, Ontario, product still led Michigan St in scoring and steals. Coming into the tournament the team will need to have her playing healthy to get any wins.