Seven Canadians to Watch at This Year’s March Madness Tournament
After two long years, March Madness is finally back and basketball fans could not be happier. For Canadian basketball fans, this is usually a time to assess potential Canadians who will be high draft picks in the NBA draft. This year, however, it does not appear that there will be a top Canadian pick.
Basketball fans north of the border have been spoiled over the last few March Madness Tournaments after seeing the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, R.J Barrett, Luguentz Dort, Jamal Murray, and many other great players flourish. Although the Canadian talent pool this year may not have any potential top ten picks for this year’s draft, it’s still a very enticing group to keep an eye on. Here are the seven Canadians to keep an eye on during March Madness these next couple of weeks.
Canadians to Watch at March Madness
Eugene Omoruyi – Oregon
Position: Forward / Hometown: Rexdale, ON / Class: Redshirt Senior
Of all the Canadians in this year’s tournament, Eugene Omoruyi might be the best one. After sitting out last season after a transfer from Rutgers, he led Oregon in scoring this season averaging 16.7 points per game. Omoruyi is also a decent shooter in the four spot. He shoots 38 percent from behind the arc and 47 percent from the field.
Although he is a decent scorer, he has a solid all-around game while also banking over five boards a game. He also registered three double-doubles this year. Omoruyi has had a fantastic senior year so far, seeing improvements in most major categories. As a senior, Omoruyi will be eligible for the 2021 NBA draft. A good performance in the tournament could see his draft stock rise. You can watch him in action against tenth seeded VCU at 10 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 20th.
Chris Duarte – Oregon
Position: Guard / Hometown: Montreal, QC / Class: Senior
Sticking with Oregon, fellow Canadian Chris Duarte has also put together a very impressive senior year. Born in Montreal, Duarte grew up in the Dominican and spent his final two years of high school in New York. Duarte is averaging 16.7 points per game which ties him with Omoruyi for Oregon’s lead scorer.
Duarte is a very versatile player as he can shoot and pass very well and be a force on defense. He was recognized for his talents this year as he was named to the 2020-21 All-Pac-12 team and was an honorable mention for the Pac-12 All-Defensive team. Duarte also saw an improvement in most major categories from his Junior season which could help him get drafted in 2021.
Andrew Nembhard – Gonzaga
Position: Forward / Hometown: Aurora, ON / Class: Junior
Andrew Nembhard has a real shot at becoming only the sixth Canadian to win an NCAA Championship with Gonzaga. Number one ranked Gonzaga is undefeated and the play-making abilities of Nembhard have helped the Bulldogs reach their full potential. The Aurora, Ontario native is a textbook point guard who is one of the best passers of his class.
He is also solid on the defensive side of the court, using his length to his advantage. He was recognized for his talents this season after winning the WCC Sixth man of the year award and also being named to the All-WCC team this season. Keep an eye out for Nembhard to be on the court in late-game situations as he has a knack for hitting clutch shots in these situations. Gonzaga opens up their tournament at 9:20 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 20th.
Jahvon Blair – Georgetown
Position: Guard / Hometown: Brampton, ON / Class: Senior
Moving onto the East bracket, let’s take a look at Jahvon Blair from Georgetown. Georgetown won the Big East this season and Blair was a key part of their success. Blair led the team in both points and assists. He was also named to the All-Big East Tournament team.
The Brampton, Ontario native is a versatile player who possesses great skills both on and off the ball. Blair can also elevate the players around him with his excellent play-making abilities. He is currently on the fringes of being selected in the upcoming NBA draft. A solid March Madness tournament can really help elevate his draft stock. You can catch Blair lead Georgetown against Colorado in the first round on Saturday, March 20 at 12:15 p.m. EST.
Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe – Oklahoma State
Position: Forward / Hometown: Toronto, ON / Class: Freshman
Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe has had a very impressive freshman year with the Cowboys this season. Although listed as a forward, Moncrieffe spends most of his time as the backup center and flourished in that role. Moncrieffe is a gifted scorer and loves to use his size and athleticism to drive the lane and get to the basket. The freshman is a key part of Oklahoma State’s rotation and could be playing some valuable minutes in this year’s tournament.
Moncrieffe has plenty of upside and has the potential to be a lottery pick in the upcoming years. He is definitely a very intriguing prospect to keep an eye on. You can watch Moncrieffe take the floor against Liberty on Friday, March 19 at 6:25 pm. EST.
Zach Edey – Purdue
Position: Center / Hometown: Toronto, ON / Class: Freshman
Coming out of Purdue is Zach Edey, who I believe has the highest ceiling of any Canadian in college basketball at the moment. Edey stands at 7’4″ and is 285lbs but can move like someone much smaller. He’s that athletic. One thing that stands out about Edey is he has only been playing basketball since 2017. This kid is just getting started and is already looking like a future lottery pick. Edey is very no-nonsense when it comes to his offensive game, which works perfectly for him. He gets the ball near the basket and uses his size and athleticism to finish off the rest.
Edey was so impressive this season that he earned a spot on the Big-Ten All-Freshman Team. The Toronto Native is still only 19 years old and is only scratching the surface on what he can be. He will be very fun to follow in the next couple of years. Edey and the Purdue Boilermakers will play North Texas on Friday, March 19 at 7:25 p.m. EST.
Quincy Guerrier – Syracuse
Position: Forward / Hometown: Montreal, QC / Class: Sophomore
To round off this list, let’s take a look at Montreal native Quincy Guerrier of Syracuse. Guerrier took a huge step forward in his sophomore season as he started every game for the Orange this season. He also led the team in rebounds with 8.8 per game and was third on the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game.
Guerrier was awarded a spot on the All-ACC team for his efforts this season. He currently looks to be a borderline second-round pick in the 2021 NBA draft if he declares. You can watch Guerrier continue on his terrific sophomore season when Syracuse looks to upset San Diego State on Friday, March 19
Canadians have been looking forward to March Madness every year now considering the rise of basketball in the country. Every year we get to see the latest crop of talent from the Great White North and try and figure out who will be the next Canadian superstar. There is a very talented field of Canadians this season that will be household names in the near future. It is also very possible that one of the seven players listed above will be that next Canadian superstar for the whole country to get behind.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images