After careful consideration and numerous requests (err… o.k. one), we’ve put together our view of the top players in the CIS weighed against three, sometimes conflicting, criteria, including: statistics thus far this season (ppg, rpg), impact on team’s success thus far this season (won/lost record of team) and, more arbitrarily, if we were selecting an All-CIS team to play in a global event, which 12-14 players might one take.
My choices are founded in watching probably 5-6 games per week – primarily AUS, RSEQ and OUA (I’m not as opinionated on Canada West), speaking with numerous observers including coaches, ex-coaches, players and other junkies across the country and reading game reports/analyzing stats and box scores.
So, by popular? demand here is this site’s current look at the top players in the CIS in order of conferences east to west. (With the heavy caveat that I am in a mediocre position to have strong opinions on CW players given the only two handfuls of games across the entire conference that I’ve watched. There are much better candidates to discuss top CW players than me but I’ll put mine out there anyway).
6’2″ Tyler Scott, UPEI The guy you want on your team in a tough, downtown, black-top game at the Park because he scores in such a variety of ways. Scott gets to the rim, loves to push it in transition and has range and confidence well beyond the 3 point line. Scott leads the CIS in scoring at 32.7 ppg in 7 games and shoots 86% from the free throw line and 47% from 3. Scott, who has missed some time due to different injuries/ailments, had a season-high 38 points vs. Acadia and has had 30+ points in 7 of his past 10 games. The leading candidate for AUS Player-of-the-year at this point in the season for the 6-2 Panthers.
6’1″ Javon Masters, UNB Offensive juggernaut with the V-Reds who isn’t shooting it from downtown as well as in the past but is a blur in transition, can slash through the lane, is an able passer and knocks down his free throws. Averaging 26 ppg / 36 minutes per game and shooting 85% from the foul line, Masters had a season-high 42 points this past weekend and has had 9 games of 30+ points overall this season. An AUS Player-of-the-year candidate.
6’1″ Kewyn Blain, UQAM Quite simply the best overall player in the RSEQ at present and the main reason why the Citadins are in second place in the conference. A national champion at Carleton, Blain is very adept at reading ball screen defense and creating from there. His mid-range game is, along with Tyler Scott, arguably the best in the country and his play-making skills are top notch. In the defensive-oriented RSEQ, Blain averages 16 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals per game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 2.5 to 1. The real testament to how valuable he is to his team is how Citadins play when Blain, who has battled foul trouble in some games, is not on the floor.
6’3″ Caleb Agada, Ottawa Arguably the top overall defender in the CIS, Agada has assumed more offensive responsibilities this season, averaging 15.7 ppg and almost 10 rebounds per game. Stronger and able to get to the rim with more effectiveness, Agada also is an able passer and one of the top hand-full of players in the country and All-Canadian candidate.
6’1″ Mike L’Africain, Ottawa The fifth-year guard is set to break the Gee-Gees career record for assists and is one of Canada’s top 3 point marksmen, shooting 56% from downtown and averages a career-high 16.8 ppg. His ability to lead is the key to uOttawa’s chances to bring home their first-ever CIS national championship.
6’2″ Kaza Keene, Carleton A perfect fit for Ravens free-flowing offense which emphasizes reading defenses, especially off the ball screen, and using creativity and athleticism to play from there. In that vien, very similar player to Blain at UQAM however Keene probably shoots it a bit better (58% fg% overall including 53% 3’s). Has not skipped a beat with Carleton after transfering in from NCAA D1 Cleveland State. Other Ravens who should be mentioned and who likely would be considered for an all-CIS team (consider them part of the Honorable Mention list below) would be 6’5″ Guillaume Boucard, who was injured for much of the first half, and 6’4″ Connor Wood.
6’5″ Adika Peter-McNeilly, Ryerson One of the more underrated wings in the country who has as a complete an offensive package as anyone with the added explosiveness to create spectacular finishes around the rim and in transition. Averaging 21 ppg and 7.5 rgp for the Top 5 Rams, due to a scheduling quirk Peter-McNeilly has only had 5 league games played thus far. 6’5″ Aaron Best would very likely be on this list somewhere but has been hurt for much of the season so production isn’t where it likely would have been.
6’5″ Dani Elgadi, Brock The Badgers rapid ascention to near the top of the CIS has been bouyed primarily by the energetic forward who this season is averaging 22.1 ppg. The next challenge for Elgadi and group is to compete with the upper-elite of the country (Ottawa, Carleton, Ryerson); Badgers took a big step toward that with a road win at McMaster in which Elgadi’s return was key.
6’5″ Thomas Cooper, Calgary The main offensive producer for the Dinos and the leading scorer in Canada West at 25.7 ppg for 8-3 Dinos, Cooper is a talented scorer who can finish in a variety of ways on a team that is among the top in CW Pioneer Division.
6’0″ A.J. Basi, Manitoba Bisons are one of the few teams I’ve seen multiple times – albeit in non-conference games – and one of the more balanced teams so at least 2 others on this team: 6’3″ Justus Alleyn and arguably the highest-potential player in the entire group: 6’4″ Keith Omoerah, could fit into this slot by the end of the season. But the most consistent player has been Basi, averaging a team-high 19 ppg including knocking down 42% 3’s. His 34 made 3’s are among the leaders in the country for the Bisons 7-3 and squarely in the race for a top 4 finish in Canada West.
Honourable Mention: 6’6″ Brad States, UPEI; 6’0″ Jordan Jensen-Whyte, UBC; 6’5″ Devin Johnson, Toronto; 6’0″ Jenning Leung, McGill; 6’7″ Alexandre Leclerc, Laval; 6’3″ Greg Morrow, Western; 6’3″ Alex Campbell, Windsor; 6’3″ Jonathan Tull, Regina; probably missing a UBC guy or two also and the two kids 6’6″ Volodymyr Iegorov and 6’10” Josh Wolfram from Thompson Rivers although both are hamstrung by the fact that Explorer Division competition is watered down relative to rest of the country.