The NCAA March Madness tournament has become an annual tradition amongst North Americans. The tournament features top schools from the NCAA competing against one another in a thrilling single game elimination style tournament to determine the national champion.

Recently, Canada has seen a rapid rise in prominence in the March Madness tournament and in the Basketball world as a whole. The same can be said of Canada Games alumni.

Let's take a look at some examples.

Steve Nash

(AP Photo/Jeff Robbins)

Steve Nash is widely regarded as the best basketball player to ever come out of Canada. His list of accomplishments include - two MVP Awards, named three times to the All-NBA Team, ESPY Award as the best NBA player, etc.

Nash also had a stellar collegiate career, where he led Santa Clara to one of the most storied upsets in March Madness history. In 1993, the same year he represented BC in the 1993 Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, Nash helped 15th ranked Santa Clara win over a 2nd seed Arizona team led by Damon Stoudemire. 

Anthony Bennett

(Ezra Shaw)

Anthony Bennett was the first overall selection of the 2013 NBA Draft. This past off-season, Bennett was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers alongside fellow Canadian and first overall pick Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Love.

In college, Bennett played one season at UNLV where averaged 16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots in 35 games played. He also captured many accolades including:

 Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year
- First Team All-Mountain West
- MWC All-tournament Team

Unfortunately for Bennett, his stint at the March Madness tournament was short-lived as his UNLV Rebels were ousted in the first round by the Cal Golden Bears.

This year

Now, as the snow melts and spring is in the air, a brand new NCAA March Madness tournament is upon us and is set to kick-off this week. Let's take a look at the Canada Games alumni who are competing.

Kenny Chery of the Baylor Bears is a Team Quebec alumnus who helped la Belle Province win Gold in Men's Basketball at the 2009 Canada Summer Games. Since then, Chery has gone on to have a strong career at BU where he is now regarded as one of the top guards in the country. Baylor is ranked as a 3rd seed entering the tournament and will first meet 14th ranked Georgia St.

Click below to see highlight footage of Chery in action. 

Kevin Pangos has been a staple of the Gonzaga Bulldog formation for four years. The talented senior is a dominant point guard with tremendous perimeter shooting. Pangos' talent was evidenced at the 2009 Canada Summer Games where led Team Ontario to a Bronze medal.

Entering this year's March Madness tournament as a 2nd seed in the South, Gonzaga's first game will be against 15th ranked ND State.

Click the video below to see a feature on Kevin Pangos. 

Rodell Wigginton is a six-foot five small forward who plays for the Buffalo Bulls alongside fellow alumnus Jarryn Skeete. This year will mark the first March Madness appearance for the Bulls, where they will be coached by Bobby Hurley. They enter the tournament as a 12th seed and will first face 5th ranked West Virginia.

For his part, Wigginton led team Nova Scotia to a Silver medal at the 2009 Canada Summer Games.

Teammate Jarryn Skeete also competed at the 2009 Games, representing Team Ontario. Skeete is an important part of the Buffalo squad as he is a polished guard with a great outside shot. Look for him and Wigginton to make some noise at this year's tournament. 

Here's a video demonstrating Wigginton's dunking ability. 
Naz Long competed for the Men's Ontario Basketball team who won Bronze at the 2009 Canada Summer Games. 

Now in his third year with at Iowa State, Long is averaging 10.3 points per game and is one of the top point producers for the Cyclones. Naz is a stellar three point shooter and is ranked seventh in the Big 12 in three point percentage. 

Iowa state will enter the March Madness tournament as the 3rd seed in the South and will first face off against 14th ranked UAB. 
Subscribe to Email Newsletter
Share this article to...