Over the past few years, Canada basketball has become a mainstay on the national stage, and have shown that they have a ton of talented prospects coming up through the ranks.
In the past year alone, Canadians like Andrew Wiggins and Tristan Thompson have developed into NBA stars, while others are still leaving their mark in the NCAA.
The 2015 recruiting class of Canadians got a big boost when five-star guard Jamal Murray opted to reclassify from the class of 2016 and commit to the University of Kentucky. Murray, who took home MVP honours at the inaugural BioSteel All-Canadian Basketball game, opted to play for the Wildcats over the Oregon Ducks.
Murray is by far the cream of the crop when it comes to Canadian recruits in the class of 2015. Fellow Canadian Thon Maker opted to remain in the class of 2016, meaning Canada will produce one of the top prospects in the NCAA in three of the last four years.
In honour of Canada Day on July 1st, we decided to take a look at some other incoming Canadian freshmen who have the potential to be impact players in their first year of competition for their respective schools.
Below, you will find our Top Five Impact Canadian Freshmen for the 2015-16 season, with a few additional names to keep an eye on.
Jalen Poyser – Shooting Guard, UNLV Rebels
With the departure of Rashad Vaughn from UNLV for the NBA Draft, and the inconsistent shooting stroke of sophomore guard Patrick McCaw, Jalen Poyser has the potential to be a big time contributor in the back court for the Rebels in 2015-16.
The native of Orangeville, Ontario showed basketball fans everywhere why he was such a hot commodity on the recruiting trails with his performance at the BioSteel All-Canadian Basketball Showcase. Poyser went off for 21 points and 4 rebounds to lead Team Red to victory.
Poyser is a strong shooter from all over the floor, as he can shoot the long ball from set positions or on catch-and-shoot plays with consistency. He has the ability to drive the lane, and draw fouls on contact with his explosiveness. His explosiveness was also on display during the BioSteel All-Canadian festivities, as he took home the dunk contest title.
Alongside fellow incoming freshmen Stephen Zimmerman and Derrick Jones, Poyser helps to give the Rebels a strong recruiting class that will surely have UNLV fans excited for the 2015-16 season to begin.
Kyle Alexander – Power Forward, Tennessee Volunteers
The Tennessee Volunteers have a new head coach in former Texas bench boss Rick Barnes, and Barnes helped land the Volunteers an impact big man in Kyle Alexander. The member of the Athlete Institute on Orangeville, ON is one of two Canadian recruits that Rick Barnes has landed for Tennessee in 2015-16, the other being Ray Kasongo.
Alexander, the brother of WNBA star Kayla Alexander, has only been playing basketball for under three years, but Barnes stated that it’s easy to see that the sky is the limit in terms of his overall potential. Clearly basketball runs in the family, so there’s little doubt that Alexander will develop into quite the prospect at Tennessee.
Standing at 6’10”, the big man will help solidify the front court for Barnes. The duo of Alexander and Kasongo (6’9”) will provide a much-needed size boost up front for Tennessee as they look to contend in the SEC once again.
Kevin Ndahiro – Center, Stetson Hatters
Technically, the big man out of Ottawa, ON was a part of the recruiting class of 2014 for the Stetson Hatters. However, Ndahiro redshirted the 2014-15 season, making him a freshman in 2015-16 and thus eligible for this list.
Ndahiro is a graduate of Thomas Nelson High School in Bardstown, Kentucky, where he averaged an impressive 17.4 points and 8.5 rebounds during his senior season. He sat out his junior season with the Generals after transferring from Archbishop O’Leary in Edmonton, Alberta.
He is the beneficiary of big man Wyatt Sikora transferring out of the program. With Sikora off to Georgia Southern, Ndahiro is now the tallest player on the roster, along with Gabe Adesino (6’9”). With his strong performances at Thomas Nelson, which included a 24 point, 12 rebound, and 12 block game against Bethlehem in the district semi-finals, Ndahiro looks poised to seize a starting position before the season is out for the Hatters.
Nelson Kaputo – Point Guard, St. Bonaventure Bonnies
With the St. Bonaventure Bonnies in an unexpected rebuilding phase due to key players either transferring or graduating, point guard Nelson Kaputo may be able to step in and play meaningful minutes right from the outset of his NCAA career. With Andell Cumberbatch having graduated, and Iakeem Alston, Jalen Adams, and Xavier Smith all transferring, the back court logjam has cleared significantly and Kaputo has his chance to shine.
Kaputo, like the others on this list, put his talents on display at the BioSteel All-Canadian game, and his play got stronger as the game wore along.
Kaputo, a native of Toronto, ON, is the type of guard who can score in bunches when he gets hot, but also has the passing ability and playmaking ability that he can use to have an impact on games when he isn’t scoring a whole lot. His multi-dimensional game will allow for him to be successful at the next level.
Matt Neufeld – Center, Saint Louis Billikens
The Saint Louis Billikens have suffered a swift fall from the top in the Atlantic 10 over the past two seasons, going from first place in 2013-14 to dead last in 2014-15. Incoming big man Matt Neufeld is hoping to help the Billikens reverse the trend, and get them back into contention and in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Neufeld, a native of Victoria, B.C., is looking to help solidify the front court for the Billikens. In 2014-15, Saint Louis lacked a strong presence in the paint after the graduation of Dwayne Evans and Rob Loe. The 6’10” Neufeld could be the guy that the Billikens have been looking for to re-establish an imposing front line.
Other names to keep an eye on
Jamar Ergas (Undeclared), Miles Seward (Northern Colorado), Corey Johnson (Harvard), Mychal Mulder (Kentucky), Kiefer Douse (Canisius)
Agree or disagree with our list? Submit your comments and let us know what you think!