Just about every major conference in NCAA basketball is finished its regular season.
Which means the big tournament is just on the horizon, college hoops fans.
With March Madness soon to befall the airwaves, many ranked players will do their best to shine in the national spotlight to grab the attention of NBA bird dogs.
Quite a few of them are from north of the 49th parallel. The rise of basketball in Canada hasn’t gone unnoticed, as players like Jamal Murray (Kentucky grad; 7th overall to Denver in 2016) and Andrew Wiggins (Kansas; first overall to Minnesota in 2014) have given the sport a boost.
Others who have made it big in the NCAA and then the NBA include Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Corey Joseph, Kelly Olynyk and Nik Stauskus.
The potential Canadian class at this year’s tournament has several impact players. Some who will be fun to watch and others who might be drafted into the NBA.
Here are 17, who, should their teams make it (and we’ve been careful to highlight players from teams ranked in the top 100) to keep an eye on (note: some of the featured schools have multiple players).
10. Kentucky – Mychal Mulder
The Wildcats, as per usual, are a top 10 team in the rankings, coming in at 7th just behind SEC rival Florida (ninth in AP polling, though). The Cats own a 24-5 record and enter the SEC tournament as the favorites. The Canadian content at UK includes senior guard Mychal Mulder. He’s been a back-up for most of his collegiate career, however, he does the most with the minutes he’s given by coach Calipari. The Windsor, Ontario native is a good three-point shooter, having drained 30-of-77 attempts (39 percent) from beyond the arc. Overall he has recorded 5.8 points per game in an average 11.7 minutes of floor time. He also has 1.8 rebounds per game, and 0.3 steals. One of his finer efforts this season came against Duquesne in November, where he was 5-for-11 from the floor (including 3-for-8 on three pointers) for 13 points, to go along with four rebounds, an assist and a block.
9. New Mexico State – Matt Taylor, Tanveer Bhullar, Jermaine Haley, Jalyn Pennie
Way down in the desert, there is a distinct flavor of Canadiana on the 24-5 Aggies, who are ranked 62nd (RPI) in the nation and have a fair chance of going to the tournament. No fewer than four players from Canada (three from Toronto, one from Burnaby, B.C.) populate the 16-player roster. Of the four, Toronto born junior guard Matt Taylor is tops offensively. In 29 games, he’s averaging 22.3 minutes, 6.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Freshman guard Jermaine Haley, from Burnaby, is next up with 4.1 points per game, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Tanveer Bhullar, a giant (7’2″) center from Toronto is a junior who has averaged 3.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.2 assists. Last, but not least, junior guard Jalyn Pennie, also of Toronto, has 2.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG and o.3 APG. Should the Aggies squeak in, look for these guys to contribute.
8. Virginia – Marial Shayok
The Virginia Cavaliers are having a pretty good season, sporting a 19-9 record in the always tough ACC and garnering a 19th place ranking in the RPI poll. Their lone Canadian, Ottawa-born shooting guard Marial Shayok, has played a large role in the Cavs’ fortunes. He is currently third in team scoring with 9.3 points per game and has added 2.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.9 steals. Shayok has also shot 15-for-49 from three-point range. He’s had some good games against ranked opponents (of which there were many in the Cavs’ season), including a 13-point performance in 65-41 loss to no. 10 North Carolina on Feb. 18. He shot 6-for-12 from the field and had a rebound and two assists. Another notable game was against then no.1 Villanova on Jan. 29, when he was 6-for-12 with 14 points in a narrow 61-59 defeat. Shayok went to the Elite 8 with the Cavaliers last year and averaged 7.0 points per game.
7. Florida State – Xavier Rathan-Mayes
The 23-6 Seminoles are sitting pretty in the polls, including 15th on the AP and 12th on the NCAA RPI. In a tough ACC they are the third highest ranked conference team, even ahead of powerhouse Duke. Markham, Ontario’s Xavier Rathan Mayes, junior shooting guard is having quite a season, leading the team in assists (144) and assists per game (5.0). Rathan-Mayes is also third in scoring with 10.3 points per game, including 35 three-pointers made in 104 attempts (33.7 percent efficiency). His most superb effort of the year came during a 88-72 win over then no. 7 ranked Duke on Jan. 10, when he poured in 21 points (2-for-4 three pointers) and added two rebounds and three assists. He hasn’t played in the tournament with the Seminoles yet, but did average 14 points per game in two rounds of the 2016 NIT tournament.
6. South Carolina – Duane Notice
The city of Toronto is well represented south of the Mason Dixon Line. Duane Notice, a senior guard with the Gamecocks, is having a standout season and will play a large role in what should be the 30th ranked (RPI poll) team’s first visit to the NCAA tournament in 13 years. Notice is third in team scoring this season, averaging 10.6 points per game, 2.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals. He has been shooting threes at a rate of 34.3 percent as well (57-for-166). Notice was the SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2015-16, which has translated to an expanded role this season. He has had to 27-point efforts, the latest in a 98-69 win over SEC rival Auburn, where he also chipped in four rebounds, two assists and two blocks. He shot a season best 6-for-9 from beyond the arc that game too.
5. Maryland – Justin Jackson
Seldom does a freshman get the chance to star for a nationally ranked team on the way to March Madness, no matter what his nationality is. Justin Jackson, from East York (Toronto), is doing just that as a rookie guard for the Big 10 Terrapins, playing big minutes and knocking down three-pointers at a prolific rate. The 6’7″ Jackson is second in Terps scoring with 10.7 PPG, and sunk 41 of 91 attempts from beyond the arc for a team-leading 45.1 percent rate. Maryland, currently ranked 28th in the RPI poll and third in the SEC with a 22-7 record, have benefited from Jackson’s scoring and defensive ability (he has a team leading 6.2 rebounds per game, along with 0.8 blocks and 0.8 steals). Jackson put together back-to-back stellar performances in late January against Big 10 opponents, scoring 28 points (5-for-5 from three-point range) in a 85-78 victory over Minnesota, and followed it up with a 22-point effort in a 77-71 win over Ohio State (4-for-7 3P).
4. Vermont – Trae Bell-Haynes, Drew Urquhart
Most Canadian athletes heading just south of the Quebec border to play at Vermont put skates on their feet. The Catamounts are known for hockey, but lately have been making headway in NCAA DI hoops. As recently as 2012, the Catamounts went to the second round of March Madness and as this year’s no. 1 team in the America East Conference (ranked 47th in the RPI poll), they should be making a return appearance. High on their list of stars is Toronto born junior guard Trae-Bell Haynes. He is currently third in Catamounts scoring with 11.3 PPG, as well as 2.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists. In Vermont’s season-ending 18-game winning streak, Bell-Haynes has had nine multi-point games, including three 20-plus efforts. Also putting in yeoman’s work for Vermont is Vancouver native Drew Urquhart, a 6’8″ junior forward. Off the bench, he has 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.
3. Bucknell – Kimbal Mackenzie
The Bucknell Bison are first in the Patriot League standings this season at 23-8 and according to some prognostications, have a 63 percent chance of getting in as a 15th seed in the tournament. The Bison last appeared at March Madness in 2013, losing to no. 6 Butler in the Round of 64. Oakville, Ontario native Kimbal Mackenzie, a sophomore guard, has had a fine season at Bucknell, shifting between point and shooting guard. He is currently third in team scoring with 11.4 points per game, including 40.3 percent efficiency from three-point range (52-for-129). He has also contributed 2.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. In his last 10 games (eight of them Bison wins), Mackenzie has averaged 13.2 points per game, including a 23-point performance in a 96-75 triumph against Army on Jan. 28.
2. Valparaiso – Tevonn Walker, Max Joseph
If the Valparaiso Crusaders have designs on a DI tournament berth, they best win the Horizon League championship. Currently ranked 64th in the RPI poll and a 40 percent chance of grabbing a 14th seed at March Madness (according to Team Rankings), the Crusaders sit tied with Oakland (Michigan) for top spot in the Horizon with a 24-7 record. The Indiana school features not one, but two Canadians on the roster, one being junior guard Tevonn Walker from Montreal, who is third in team scoring with 11.3 points per game as well as 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Walker has been a double-double threat all season, posting three of them, the last against conference rival Detroit Mercy on Feb. 19. He had 11 points, 11 rebounds and two assists in the 83-63 win. Also from Montreal is back-up junior guard Max Joseph, who is fifth in team scoring at 5.5 points per game. Joseph has hit on 19 of 55 three-point attempts (34.5 percent) and dished out 54 assists (1.8 per game).
1. Oregon – Dillon Brooks, Chris Boucher, Dylan Ennis
Canadians aren’t just well-represented on the Ducks fifth ranked (sixth on AP poll) roster, they are leading the way. The Pac-12 powerhouse, which went to the Elite 8 in 2016, features junior forward and NBA prospect Dillon Brooks, who hails from Mississauga, Ontario. The 29th-rated prospect for this year’s draft leads the Ducks in scoring with 15.6 points per game, as well as 2.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals and a three-point shooting percentage of 42.3 (41-for-97). He is 10th in Pac-12 scoring and has amped up his game down the stretch, scoring 20.5 PPG as Oregon went 7-1. Not far behind Brooks on the Ducks scoring ledger are 6’10” senior forward Chris Boucher (Montreal) and senior guard Dylan Ennis of Brampton. Boucher has clipped along at 12.1 points per game (third) and contributed 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. Ennis is fourth in Ducks scoring at 11.1 PPG, along with 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals.