Sunday, 23 December 2007

2nd Annual Top Freshmen in the CIS (Listed Alphabetically)

Our second annual look at the top freshmen-eligible players in the CIS this season (includes only those CIS players in their first season of eligibility). The criteria for selection is a combination of statistics, contribution to winning and potential among others and was based on informal discussions with many CIS observers and my own personal observations. The Top 10 players are listed in alphabetical order and then we outline of some of the other top players alphabetically on a by-conference basis.

6'9" Tyler Fidler (Calgary) Fidler came in as one of several touted recruits for the Dinos this season and has not disappointed. Usually the first player off the bench for 9-1 Calgary, Fidler is a difficult matchup at virtually any position on the floor and has been touted by many as the top all-round rookie in Canada West. He was a major factor with 16 points and 5 rebounds including a tremendous second half as the Dinos handed UBC their first loss of the season in November. Among other strong games, Fidler also had 14 points in 24 minutes in one of Calgary's wins against Alberta and 15 points including 3-3 from downtown in a win at Waterloo. For the season, Fidler is averaging 9.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 19.5 minutes per game while shooting 39% from downtown.

5'11" Tremaine Fraser (Cape Breton) Fraser, a late cut from Canada's U-19 team this past summer, has flourished in the Capers back court as a solid ball defender and with creativity in transition and attacking the rim. He was at his best down the stretch of the first of two Capers league wins at home against St. Mary's, scoring a career-high 18 points including several big fourth-quarter baskets. The diminutive guard got better as the first half closed, averaging 12.4 points and 4.3 assists per game in 33 minutes per game of league play after averaging fewer than 10 ppg in the pre-season. In another banner season for AUS freshmen, Fraser is one of three first-year eligible players who can easily be considered for AUS Freshman-of-the-Year.

6'6" Kale Harrison (Laurier) One of less heralded recruits coming in to the CIS season, Harrison has played with the confidence of an experienced veteran, not flinching to take and make open shots and has been a pleasant surprise for the Hawks. Harrison closed off the first half of the season scoring 27 points against Laurentian and then added a career-high 30 points including 6 for 8 from beyond the arc against York the following night to allow the Hawks to go into the break at 3-5. Harrison also broke a mild slump by going 4 for 5 from downtown, part of a 23 point/8 rebound effort at Carleton. The smooth forward from Stratford, ON also had three 20+ games in the pre-season including a 25 point effort in a tight loss to Dalhousie and 21 points/7 rebounds in a triple overtime loss to Bishop's. The young Hawks could be more consistent but with Harrison, averaging 13.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game in league play, leading the way, the second half promises to be strong.

6'6" Manock Lual (UPEI) A strong finisher around the rim with quickness and explosive second-and-third jump ability, Manock is also an active rebounder and defender. The young Panthers generally have gone as their freshman forward from Ottawa has gone - when he is on, the team usually plays well. Lual has already had four games of 20 points or better including a team-high 21 points in a key Panther league victory at Dalhousie and a 28-point/14-rebound double/double at Western. His game will continue to expand as he complements his great paint-area instincts with the ability to read double teams and push his game out closer to the perimeter. For the regular season, Lual averages 13.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game - in the AUS Top 10 in both categories. Look for this tremendous athlete to have a stellar career in Charlottetown and help lead the Panthers back to national prominence.

6'4" Jonathan Moscatelli (Guelph) The two-year wait due to injury was more than worth it for Guelph Gryphons fans as Moscatelli's perimeter shooting and court savvy were instrumental in the Gryphs run to a Top 10 ranking. Moscatelli's shooting numbers for the first 8 league games were nothing short of incredible: 17 for 23 (74% !!) from downtown and 95% (19-20) free throws, another indicator that Moscatelli doesn't force things and knows what a good shot is. He was at his best late in games, including knocking down big 3's down the stretch as part of a season-high 24 points (including 4 for 4 from downtown) as Guelph pulled away at York. He also had 19 (4-5 3's) against Ryerson and 16 (3-3 3's) in an overtime win against Toronto. In addition to the astonishing numbers from downtown, for the regular season, Moscatelli is averaging 12.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 22.9 minutes per game.

6'5" Jonathan Ogden (Queen's) An unheralded recruit out of Belleville, ON, Ogden has made as much of a positive impact on his team as any first year player in the CIS. Already a strong defensive rebounder with his length and body positioning, Ogden also gets on the offensive glass. But it is Ogden's smooth stroke from downtown, a natural fit for the Gaels three-point-oriented offense, that has been stellar - he averages almost three made 3's per game in league play, forcing bigger checks to come out and guard him. Odgen's long arms and reasonably quick feet for a big guy have also helped Queen's to be one of Ontario's top defensive teams. The left-handed Odgen began the regular season with a 17-point/13-rebound effort in a win against Brock and then had 13 points/8 rebounds the following night in a loss to Guelph. His career-high of 22 points with 8 rebounds came on the road at Windsor. Odgen ended the first half with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists against Lakehead and for the first half averaged 12.3 ppg/6.0 rpg/3.0 apg in almost 28 mpg.

6'0" Tristan Smith (Fraser Valley) One of Head Coach Barnaby Craddock's first moves after taking the reigns of Fraser Valley this past summer was to bring in a top level point guard and Craddock was fortunate enough to find Smith, a native of California and the Cascades have not been disappointed. Smith, from Rolling Hills Prep in Gardena, CA, is a tremendous athlete who is very tough off the bounce in transition and getting to the rim. His presence has solidified UCFV's backcourt and expect him to continue to mature as the Cascades grow into a contender in Canada West. Smith has started 10 of 12 league games and averages 27 minutes per game at the point. He had a season-high of 18 points against Thompson Rivers plus a solid 14 points and 5 assists against UBC and overall averaged 11.9 points and 3.3 assists as a first-year point guard in tough Canada West. Look for Smith to lead the resurgence of Fraser Valley in the coming seasons.

6'7" Islam Luiz de Toledo (St. FX) The heralded Brazilian import with imposing athleticism has not disappointed despite having to deal with double and triple teams virtually every time he touches the ball in the post – unheard of attention for a true freshman in his first semester. Toledo also has the skills to step outside and knock down 3's but it is on the offensive glass and in transition where he thrives, already authoring several spectacular dunks the likes of not seen from an X player since All-Canadian Richard Bella in the early 90's. A very tough match up for most CIS wing players and is mobile enough to be a problem for a lot of the bigs, Toledo is still developing as a dominant scorer with his back-to-the-basket and is improving his ability to find open teammates out of the double teams. Expect his numbers (11.5 points/6.7 rebounds/1.3 assists per game in 28 minutes per game) to steadily increase and his presence, shot changing ability and rebounding will continue to be a huge asset for X.

6'4" Jerome Turcotte (Laval) One of the more heralded recruits this season after a stellar CCAA career with Ste. Foy CEGEP, Turcotte has shown flashes of brilliance sprinkled with inconsistent efforts but promises to be a top player before his career is done. After a slow start in which he was scoreless in the first two leagues while fouling out of both games, Turcotte turned on the jets with a prolific 28 point effort including 8 of 11 from downtown in a win against UQAM. Turcotte can handle the ball, post up, knock down 3's and plays with a solid competitive edge allowing him to be comfortable mucking it up inside or playing on the perimeter. Despite the slow start in league play, Turcotte is still averaging 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in 29 minutes as he has combined with Rouge et Or point guard Xavier Baribeau, another who could easily have made this top 10 list, to give Laval a solid combination for the future.

6'1" Tyrell Vernon (McMaster) Another late cut of Canada's U-19 National team, Vernon is one of the better pure shooters to enter the CIS recently and is taking the necessary steps to become more active leading the break and running the point. Author of several 40+ point games in high school in his native Hamilton, ON, after a slow start, Vernon has helped a very young Marauder team to a 4-4 record in the first half, including a career-high 24 points including 4-8 3's and 5 assists as Mac upset Queen's in Kingston on the final weekend of the first half. Vernon also had 22 points in a win at Laurentian and was solid against #1 Carleton at home with 16 points. Look for Vernon, who averages 12.3 points and 3.2 assists per game in 31.1 minutes per game, to continue to gain consistency scoring and confidence playing both the point and wing as the young Marauders mature as a group.

Other Top Freshman of note from across the country:

6'4" Ryan MacKinnon (Victoria) A big guard who had an inconsistent start to the season but came on at the end of the first half including a great game against UBC, hitting several big threes to finish with 20 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds as the Vikes won in Vancouver.

6'5" Graham Bath (UBC) Many times post players take a bit longer to develop at the next level and unfortunately for highly-touted Bath, he has had to battle injuries but still is probably the best freshman post player in Canada West.

6'1" Quinn Van Gaalen (Lethbridge) Averages 12.4 ppg for the winless Pronghorns who are filled with new faces. Van Gaalen is a solid scorer who hopefully will benefit from the addition of Danhue Lawrence in January.

6'4" Sephton Spence (Lethbridge) An Ontario import from provincial champions Pickering, Spence is beginning to adjust to university basketball with his combination of speed and explosiveness and projects as a solid undersized forward in Canada West.

6'4" George Aramide (Thompson Rivers) Another under-sized post player with solid touch around the rim and competitor on the glass. Aramide averages 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game with a pair of solid efforts against UBC (15 points and then 14 points/8 rebounds).

6'4" Brennan Jarrett (Saskatchewan) Prior to being forced to the sidelines to battle testicular cancer, Jarrett impressed many as one of Canada West's top freshmen. Jarrett has a fine array of skills and worked his way into the Huskies starting lineup, starting 3 games and averaging 6.8 points per game in 17.5 minutes per game. We all look forward to Jarrett's return once he wins his current battle.

6'7" Ben Kingdon (Winnipeg) Has seen more time than projected with the injuries the Wesmen have had to deal with and has done well, averaging 3.9 points per game and a solid 5.8 rebounds per game in 17.3 minutes while playing in all 10 league games.

6'3" Elliott Thompson (Carleton) Probably Carleton's most consistent freshman, Thompson is a scrappy wing who will mix it up defensively and on the glass, take charges, hit the floor for loose balls and also has a fine array of offensive skills including knocking down open 3's. Along with 6'6" Cole Hobin and 6'7" Aaron Chapman, both of whom are working their way into the rotation for the five-time defending champions, this talented trio represents the future foundation of the Ravens up front and on the wing.

6'7" Matt Wilusz (McMaster) Another freshman starter for Mac who can shoot the 3 and rebounds hard. Wilusz is a solid passer in the Marauders high-low game when playing the 4 spot. Wilusz finished with 17 points including 12 in a row highlighted by back to back 3’s in Mac's pre-season win against X.

6'4" Nick Didonato, 6'6" Travis Mitchell, 6'4" Tim Boyle (all Queen's) Although the Gaels recruiting class was not highly touted, with Jon Ogden and these three freshmen, Queen's has got the best performance on the floor from its freshman class, allowing them to stay in the thick of things in the OUA East. All are long defenders who can shoot it and rebound with the added benefit of having high basketball IQ's. With this solid group, the Gaels look to remain at or near the top of the OUA East for years to come.

6'4" Dominique Brown (Laurier) A talented, athletic wing who had 28 points against Bishop's in the pre-season. Has not continued to dominate in league games but is still averaging 8.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game for the Hawks.

6'6" Garrett Olexiuk (Western) Has a chance to be an all-star calibre player in the OUA West for years to come and has had several solid efforts in the first half, averaging 6.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 17.1 minutes per game.

6'3" Cam McIntyre (Waterloo) Finished the first half with a flurry, going for 37 points against York but was relatively quiet for the most part against top teams including Toronto, Carleton, Ottawa and Queen's in league play. Averages 12.8 points per game but was only 5 for 33 (15%) from downtown before going 7 for 10 against the Lions from three point land in one of the top offensive performances of the first half in the CIS. Has a chance to be a great scorer going forward.

5'10" Ryan Barbeau (Western) Biding his time as the backup until incumbent Matt Curtis graduates, the Mustangs have a solid pair of lead guards. Barbeau is a coach's son type of point who will be more of an offensive threat as his outside shot develops.

6'0" Mike Patrella (Guelph) Numbers tell very little of the story with this tough lead guard who is another coach's son out of Brantford, ON. Patrella has no fear driving into the lane and can find open teammates with kick outs. His game will round into form as he grows as a finisher.

6'6" Andrew Wasik (Toronto) One of the few back-to-the-basket posts in the OUA who has had a major impact for the Blues off the bench, shooting at a high percentage including 5 for 6 against Brock.

6'2" Jacob Gibson-Bascombe (Ottawa) First guard off the bench for the 7-1 Gee-Gees and he has looked to run the offense when his brother Josh moves over to the wing spot and make open looks when available. Averages 4.4 points per game in 14.8 minutes.

5'9" Xavier Baribeau (Laval) Part of a strong Rouge et Or recruiting class which included highly-touted Jerome Turcotte, Baribeau has exceled at arguably the most difficult position on the floor - point guard. Baribeau has averaged 30.5 minutes per game for Laval (3-2, 8-8 overall), making key shots and distributing effectively. His game and leadership qualities have really taken off since league play began as he averages 11.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists including a 12 point effort in 35 minutes in Laval's victory over Concordia.

6'0" Decee Krah (Concordia) After somewhat of a slow start for the Stingers, Krah gained some confidence during Concordia's tour of the U.S. and has averaged 6.0 ppg in 16 minutes per game in league play.

6'1" Sam Goulet (McGill) A U.S. import from Las Vegas, Goulet has been steady sharing time at the point with Nicolas Pronovost and is most comfortable in an up-tempo game where he can let his instincts take over. Should be a solid "Q" league guard for his career.

6'3" Olivier Boyard (UQAM) A highly-touted scorer from "AA" CEGEP, Boyard is growing daily as a player and should be a force in the second half for the Citadins.

6'6" Al Aliovic (Cape Breton) A solid rebounder who is learning to finish as he adjusts to the next level, Aliovic had been a steady contributor off the bench for the 6-1 Capers. Averages 5.0 points, 5.9 rebounds per game in almost 19 minutes per game.

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