The Can Ball Report gives what can only be described as the only NCAA Canadian player preview that matters. Join us for a look at the Canuck ballers that we expect to be making big waves this season.
So it’s is finally here people! All the waiting is over because the NCAA basketball season will officially start in a few days. There are roughly about 75 Canadians on Division 1 men’s basketball rosters this season and it looks like it will be a good one for our boys. We have two bona fide stars headlining what can be said is the most talented set of Canadian players playing at this level, ever. There are upperclassmen that have earned preseason honors; there are two reigning conference rookies of the year; there are a whole host of preseason all conference selections as well as players who will play major roles to their respective teams’ success. Since we are all basketball enthusiasts (I’ll let you gauge the degree of your enthusiasm in silence now for a moment) the Can Ball Report has compiled a list of players that we feel are worthy of early notice. Now some of you may know a few of the names already, if you do then good for you. For those of you who are not so familiar with them we suggest you, to quote Clinton Sparks, get familiar quickly. The players listed below are guys we feel you'll be hearing a lot about on this site, and any other Canadian media outlet for that matter, from the opening tip to the One Shining Moment in March and we want you to get it here first. So here we go people, the first annual Can Ball Report’s NCAA Canadian Player preview.
Most Outstanding Player – Harouna Mutombo, G - Western Carolina
A consensus pre season Southern Conference First Team selection this season after an incredible Rookie of the Year campaign, Mutombo is poised for a big (ger) year. He led the Catamounts in scoring, rebounding and steals on his way to a Second Team All SoCon nod so I wonder what the encore will be this season.
Top Newcomer – Manny Arop, G - Gonzaga
Arop may not have the best shot nor be the best rebounder as a freshman, but he does everything well enough that he will be an impact player for the Zags from day one. The team will be short on frontcourt help this year so he will be given every opportunity to contribute on a small ball lineup. Of all the newbie Canadians playing this year at the D1 level, Arop should be the best of them come March.
Best Shooter – Andy Rautins, G - Syracuse
Do you really need any explanation here? He is the best deep threat on a perennial national power team. Check his stats. He took 279 threes last year with gunner Eric Devendorf on the team and Rautins made an average of 2.8 makes per game. And that’s high quality defense in his face night in, night out. We don’t need to say anymore.
Best Defender – Andrew Nicholson, F/C – St. Bonaventure
After hitting the weight room this summer, the rookie record setting block machine is back to hold down the lane for the Bonnies. A legit Mutombo-like game changer, teams better rethink the attack when he’s they see his shadow looming.
Best Situation – Chretien Lukusa, G - Binghamton
The scandal that rocked Binghamton earlier this school year sent three starters and three supporting players packing, including two conference first teamers. An accomplished defender, Lukusa is the only returning starter so he pretty much should be good to go on both ends from day one.
Worst Situation – Ryan Wright, F - Oklahoma
The much ballyhooed Wright left UCLA for Oklahoma last year. Now with Blake Griffin in the NBA, the pressure is on him to contribute immediately to a team that has no real experienced frontcourt players returning. This may be a sink or swim situation that could turn against Wright in a hurry.
Most Important to Team – Andrew Nicholson, F/C – St. Bonaventure
Not enough can be said about Nicholson’s importance to his team this year so we’ll only use one word: very. He was the difference between a dead last finish and going .500 last season in the perennially tough A-10 Conference. This year, the team’s success will hinge largely on him and his improvements on both ends of the floor.
Super Sleeper – Willie Galick, F – Cal State-Northridge
Galick has been steadily flying under the radar for most of his college career finally breaking out last season as a junior transfer at Cal State-Northridge. Last year he started 25 of 33 games averaging 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, both fourth and second respectively on the team. This year, he will get the starting nod at the power forward spot from the beginning of the season for the Matadors and should really shine in the California sun.
Best Down the Road – Manny Arop, G - Gonzaga
Call me crazy but a having great games against the best in the world at your age group should be an indicator of how good you are. Arop showed how good he was in New Zealand at the U19 Worlds this summer. He will have every chance this season to show why he may be the best recruit in the Zags class this year and will only get better with experience.
Due for a Breakout - Rob Sacre, C - Gonzaga
Last season, Rob Sacre was hindered by a foot injury that kept him out of all but five games. After spending the summer working out with the Canadian Senior Men's National Team, the recovered Sacre will be the man in the middle with the departures of Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye. With Sacre getting the first look at the starting center spot and a lack of real interior players, expect the breakout to come sooner than later.
Redemption Time – Maurice Joseph, G - Vermont
MoJo was another heralded Canadian export from the 2004 high school class along with Wright. He started out at Michigan State and was a big contributor to the team’s Tournament run in ’06 but he decided to transfer to Vermont after his sophmore campaign. Last season amid very high expectations, he began as a starter but finished coming off the bench. This season is the Montreal native’s final year to prove that he was worthy of big expectations when he became a Catamount.
Don’t Call It a Comeback – Olu Ashoalu, G/F – Louisiana Tech
Ashoalu has been on the top end of many school recruiting lists since he was a high school sophomore in Atlanta. He chose to follow the coach that recruited him to Louisiana Tech and got lost in the mix somehow. He was expected to play a big role in the team’s turnaround but red shirted his first year. Last year he showed flashes of what he could do averaging 5.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg playing in all 33 games. This year he will be asked to shoulder more of the load on both ends and should finally begin to play the way many predicted he would at this level.
Remember Me – William Archambault, F - Davidson
If you’re not aware of whom Archambault is you’ll know by the end of this season. With Stephen Curry starting in the NBA and taking with him much of the experienced outside shooting from last year’s team, the sweet shot forward will be the Wildcats’ primary outside gunner. He was the third leading scorer for the team despite starting only nine games and can light it up in a hurry. He is selected as a pre season SoCon All Conference selection, by the coaches no less, so we should all expect a big senior season from Archambault.
Diamond in the Rough - Max Boudreau, F - Buffalo
There seems to be something in the Quebec water that has the province producing seemingly unathletic yet highly efficient basketball players. Max Boudreau can arguably be the most underrated player on any team. He only averaged 13.8 minutes per but quietly put up 6.1 points and 3.3 rebounds playing in all 33 contests. He managed to lead the team in scoring four times and rebounding six times last years, with two of those feats coming in the post season. This year may be the year for him to finally play more and potentially be a starter, finally.
Fab Five All Canadian First Team:
Andrew Nicholson, F/C - St Bonaventure
Harouna Mutumbo, G – Western Carolina
Andy Rautins, G - Syracuse
William Archambault, G/F - Davidson
Rob Sacre, C - Gonzaga
Ten Players to Watch:
Alex Johnson, G – Cal State-Bakersfield
Kai Williams, F – South Dakota State
Jon House, G – Belmont
Bol Kong, F – Gonzaga
Devoe Joseph, G – Minnesota
Hernst Laroche, G – New Mexico State
Tyrone Watson, G – New Mexico State
Marc Trasolini, F – Santa Clara
Francis Cedric-Martel, G/F – Richmond
Alwayne Bigby, G/F – Northeastern