Athletes

Five Canadians to Watch in NCAA’s March Madness

Canadian basketball players have been starred in the NCAA, and this year’s crop is no different. Here are five players to watch in NCAA’s March Madness.

Jamal Murray, KentuckyThe 19-old-year guard from Kitchener, Ont., has quickly become one of the finest players ever to represent the storied Wildcats program. He’s the highest scoring freshman in school history and leads the team with 20.1 points a game. He’s also a proven big-game performer, helping Canada to a silver medal at last summer’s Pan American Games. He’s earned the nickname “Blue Arrow” for his bow-and-arrow celebration.

Dillon Brooks, OregonThe forward from Mississauga, Ont., helped the Ducks to their first-ever No. 1 tournament seed. Brooks’ improvement in his sophomore season has seen him start every game and lead the team in scoring (17.1 points), while shooting 47 per cent from the field. His standout regular season saw the Canadian national team player earn All-Pac 12 honours.

Dyshawn Pierre, DaytonThe senior forward from Whitby, Ont., has bounced back from a suspension that sidelined him for the fall semester to lead the Flyers in rebounding (8.6). He is second in scoring (13.0). Pierre has been a solid contributor to a team that has made three straight tournament appearances. He also was part of the star-studded Canadian under-17 team that won bronze at the 2010 world championships.

Kia Nurse, ConnecticutThe 20-year-old from Hamilton became a household name last summer when she led Canada to Pan Am Games gold and carried the Maple Leaf in the closing ceremonies. She’ll be in the international spotlight again at this summer’s Rio Olympics. Nurse has started every game this college season as a major contributor to a Huskies team (32-0) that’s seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive women’s NCAA title.

Ruth Hamblin, Oregon StateThe six-foot-six “Canadian Hammer” from Houston, B.C., was named the Pac-12’s defensive player of the year for the second consecutive season, and recently broke the conference record for blocks. Hamblin is averaging 11.4 points, nine rebounds, and 3.41 blocks per game. She’s also a standout student, earning first-team Academic All-American honours for her 3.85 GPA in mechanical engineering.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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