As we continue to inch closer to March Madness on both the women’s and men’s sides, it’s only right to look back and analyze the best regular seasons from Canada’s top collegiate talent. In part 2, we will highlight more standout Canadian performers that deserve their flowers.
Andrew Nembhard – Gonzaga
After spending his first two years of college at Florida, guard Andrew Nembhard transferred to Gonzaga for his junior year, and the results have been greater than even he could have likely expected. Nembhard has crafted a role for himself as the first guy off of the bench, and has been the perfect piece for a Gonzaga team that is a complete juggernaut. The Bulldogs finished the regular season at an undefeated 24-0 clip, and will be the odds-on favourites to win the NCAA Men’s Championship this year.
Nembhard is averaging 9 PPG on 47% shooting, along with 4.4 APG and 2.4 RPG. The 21-year-old is 11th in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio, and was just recently named the winner of the WCC 6th Man of the Year award. The personal accolades are incredible, but Nembhard will surely be keeping his focus on helping Gonzaga get to a national championship over the course of the next month.
Zach Edey – Purdue
Freshman Zach Edey has continued to gain comfort and find his game as the season wears on, and now in March, the 7’4 center is looking to be a valuable piece for tournament-bound Purdue. It’s not easy to fly under the radar when you’re that big, but Edey wasn’t given much of a chance by the Boilermakers when the season began. He’s only averaging 14 minutes a game for the season, but he’s been finding more playing time as of late, which allowed for a 21-point explosion off of the bench last week vs. ranked Wisconsin.
Edey is averaging 8.5 PPG and 4.4 RPG in limited action, and has proven himself at the perfect time. Purdue is currently predicted to be a 4-seed for the NCAA tournament, and even though they aren’t a favourite, it would not shock anyone if they danced deep into this year’s postseason. If they are able to do so, the Canadian freshman will likely be one of their biggest players to watch, both literally and figuratively.
Hailey Brown – Michigan
Hamilton, Ontario native Hailey Brown has started in all 15 games for Michigan this season, and has been the dream senior for any coach. Brown has been a leader both on and off of the court, and has backed it up with her individual performances. Hailey is averaging 8.5 PPG to go along with 4.2 RPG, while shooting a sturdy 41% from the floor.
Brown became just the 14th Wolverine in program history to start 100 games in her career this season, and had a signature performance earlier on against Notre Dame with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks. With Michigan ranked 12th and positioned in 4th place in the Big 10, they will have a lot to play for over the course of the next month, and the Canadian senior will have a big role in trying to lead this basketball team to its full potential. Her collegiate career has been an amazing journey, and the hope is that the ending will be just as spectacular.
Eugene Omoruyi – Oregon
Keeping with the theme of seniors, Rexdale’s own Eugene Omoruyi has thrived in his first season at Oregon after transferring from Rutgers. The 6’6 forward has started 21 times this season and is averaging 30 minutes a game. Although he was never a deep-shot threat, Omoruyi has developed his long-range jumper at Oregon, and it has allowed for his entire offensive game to blossom.
The senior is averaging 16.9 PPG with 5.4 RPG and 2.1 APG heading into the Pac-12 conference tournament, and will be one of the key pieces for the Ducks in the month of March. The Pac-12 is undoubtedly having a down year, but ranked Oregon will be heading to the dance regardless, and the 24-year-old Canadian will have to use his experience and leadership to help guide this Oregon team to a memorable run.
Justina King – Long Beach State
When you think of big-time NCAA programs, Long Beach State likely doesn’t come to mind, but much like in other “mid-major” conferences, schools like these tend to produce some of the best hidden gems, and Canadian Justina King is definitely one of those. For those unfamiliar, King is a 5’8 guard from Scarborough, currently in her junior year at Long Beach. King is averaging 13.8 PPG, 3.7 APG and 2.2 RPG, but what’s more impressive is just how much she plays. King has featured in almost every play the entire season, averaging an insane 37.8 minutes-per-game.
As we continue deeper into March, Long Beach will be looking to make a push for the postseason by winning the Big West conference tournament, and they will have every chance to do so with King at the helm. It’s not every day that a Canadian hooper is the face of an American program, and yet that’s exactly what King is. Hopefully a trip to the NCAA tournament would bring King the spotlight she rightly deserves.
Written by Kyle Oliveira