NCAA March Madness Showcases 16 Ontario Players


NCAA March Madness Showcases 16 Ontario Players

There is no denying that Canadians have become more visible in the NCAA basketball world, particularly during March Madness.

Last year, 27 Canadians played for tournament teams, including three future NBA first round draft choices in Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas and Tyler Ennis. The emergence of Canadians has been a steadily growing trend that shows no signs of slowing down as the game continues to grow in Canada.

Although there isn’t a player with star power like Wiggins last year, there is still a ton of homegrown talent for us folks north of the border to enjoy.

For those of us residing in Ontario, here’s a look at some story lines to take note of during March Madness:

Can Kevin Pangos Lead Gonzaga to the Final Four?

Feb 28, 2015; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Kevin Pangos (4) brings the ball down court against the Brigham Young Cougars during the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The heart-and-soul of Gonzaga, point guard Kevin Pangos will play an instrumental role in the Zags’ tournament. Averaging 11.5 points per game, and 5 assists, the Holland Landing, ON native is the floor general for head coach Mark Few. His basketball IQ and tenacious defence easily makes him one of the top guards to watch during this tournament, as a potential matchup between him and Duke’s freshman sensation Tyus Jones would be a treat for basketball fans. To top it all off, Pangos holds the all-time record at Gonzaga for three-pointers made.

After Pangos, Gonzaga has two other Canadian players on their roster in Dustin Triano and Kyle Wiltjer.

Son of former Raptors and Team Canada basketball head coach Jay Triano, Dustin Triano is a redshirt freshman for the Zags’. Triano seldom plays, as he has only appeared in 11 games this season, averaging less than three minutes of burn.

Although Wiltjer was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, his father is a Canadian, which allowed him to obtain dual citizenship. As a transfer from Kentucky, Wiltjer is an integral part of the Zags’ attack. His 16.7 points per game only scratches the surface of his offensive capabilities, as the 6-foot-10 senior has remarkable range and plays well off the ball to get to his spot.

With three Canadians on their roster, Gonzaga has the second most Canucks only behind this next team.

Ontario-New Mexico State Recruiting Pipeline

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Just over 3,000 kilometres away in Las Cruces, New Mexico, head coach Marvin Menzies has developed an Ontario pipeline to New Mexico State University. With a tournament high five Ontarian’s on the Aggies’ roster, fans north of the border — specifically in the GTA area — have a team to root for. Unfortunately for the Aggies, as a No. 15 seed they drew perennial powerhouse Kansas.

So while the Aggies might not be here for a long time, here are five Ontarian’s to watch for on their roster.

Senior guard Daniel Mullings averages 12.6 points per game and should see plenty of playing time against the Jayhawks. After Mullings, Ontarian’s Tanveer Bhullar, Jalyn Pennie, Matthew Taylor and Rashawn Browne serve as bench players for New Mexico State.

Of the five Ontarian’s, the 7-foot-3 Bhullar is more than likely the most well-known player, as he is the younger brother of 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar, who became the first player of Indian descent to sign with an NBA team last summer.

Trio of Peel Region Guards Continue to Make an Impact

Having produced former collegiate standouts like Tristan Thompson (Brampton, ON), Andrew Nicholson and Ryan Wright (both Mississauga, ON), the region of Peel has become a hot bed for basketball talent in Ontario.

This year’s tournament showcases three players that are key cogs for their respective teams in Dillon Brooks (Mississauga, ON) of Oregon, Naz Long (Mississauga, ON) of Iowa State, and Dylan Ennis (Brampton, ON) of Villanova.

The little brother of NBA point guard Tyler Ennis, Dylan Ennis is a big reason why Villanova is in the midst of their best season in years. He is averaging 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the No. 1 seeded Wildcats. Although his offence might not overwhelm you, his relentless defence will. With an excellent combination of speed, athleticism and elite instincts, you can bet that Ennis will have an impact on each game Villanova plays this tournament.

In Villanova’s first game yesterday, Ennis scored 16 points, while posting five assists and two rebounds, en route to a 93-52 victory over Lafayette.

Freshman Dillon Brooks averages 11.5 points per game for the No. 8 seed Oregon Ducks. At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, the former CIA Bounce guard is a versatile player that fits in well with Oregon’s uptempo attack. Brooks and the Ducks will have their hands full when they take on No. 9 seed Oklahoma State this afternoon.

After suffering a “bracket busting” loss yesterday, Naz Long and the Iowa State Cyclones are exiting the big dance early. Long, a sharpshooting guard from Mississauga, had a day to forget yesterday, shooting 2-for-9 from the field. As a junior this season, he averaged 10.3 points per game, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists. With another year of eligibility left, expect to see Long and the Cyclones back in the tournament next season.

Looking at things from a broader scope, The Canadian Press counted a grand total of 28 Canucks in this year’s tournament, with 16 of those players hailing from Ontario.

Here’s the full list of Canadians participating in this year’s Madness:

Midwest Region

Buffalo Bulls: Jarryn Skeete (Brampton, ON), Rodell Wigginton (Dartmouth, N.S.)

Kentucky Wildcats: Trey Lyles (Saskatoon, SK)

New Mexico State Aggies: Daniel Mullings (Toronto, ON), Tanveer Bhullar (Mississauga, ON) Matthew Taylor (Brampton, ON), Jalyn Pennie (Ajax, ON) Rashawn Browne (Toronto, ON)

Valparaiso Crusaders: Tevonn Walker (Montreal, QC), Max Joseph (Montreal, QC)

West Region

Oregon Ducks: Dillon Brooks (Mississauga, ON)

Harvard Crimson: Agunwa Okolie (Ajax, ON), Chris Egi (Markham, ON), Patrick Steeves (Montreal, QC)

Baylor Bears: Kenny Chery (Montreal, QC)

East Region:

Villanova Wildcats: Dylan Ennis (Brampton, ON)

Lafayette Leopards: Jake Newman (Surrey, BC)

Providence Friars: Junior Lomomba (Montreal, QC)

Dayton Flyers: Dyshawn Pierre (Whitby, ON)

Oklahoma Sooners: Dinjiyl Walker (Thornhill, ON)

Albany Great Danes: Richard Peters (Pickering, ON)

Virginia Cavaliers: Marial Shayok (Ottawa, ON)

South Region:

San Diego State Aztecs: Kevin Zabo (Gatineau, QC)

Utah Runnin’ Utes: Dallin Bachynski (Calgary, AB)

Iowa State Cyclones: Naz Long (Mississauga, ON)

Gonzaga Bulldogs: Kevin Pangos (Holland Landing, ON), Kyle Wiltjer (Portland, OR/dual citizen), Dustin Triano (Tsawwassen, BC)

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