With the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro two years away, Basketball Canada will be watching this weekend's action of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's round of 16 national men's basketball championship that starts on Thursday in Anaheim and Memphis very closely.
That is because in the tournament best known as March Madness, there are eight Canadians who will be participating in the sweet 16.
Seven of the players are interestingly from Ontario-- Dayton forward Dyshawn Pierre of Whitby, Michigan guard Nik Stauskas of Mississauga, Stanford center Stefan Nastic of Thornhill, Stanford forward Dwight Powell of Toronto, Baylor guard Brady Heslip of Burlington, Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim and guard Naz Long. The other player outside of Ontario is Baylor guard Kenny Chery from Montreal, Quebec.
Stauskas, a sophomore is the Big Ten Player of the Year. This season he averaged 17.4 points per game. Ejim, a senior, was the Big 12 Player of the Year, while averaging 18.1 points per game. Heslip, Nastic, Pierre and Powell will also be integral players on their respective teams.
This evening, Stanford plays Dayton and Baylor plays Wisconsin and then on Friday, Michigan plays Tennessee and Iowa State plays Connecticut.