Centre of Excellence college update

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25 of our past Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence athletes are currently competing in colleges around the USA. Catch up on their progress around halfway through the 2016/17 season.

Deng Adel: Bouncing back from an MCL injury, Adel is having a strong sophomore season with Louisville Cardinals, upping his point production to double-digits while his team sit at 13-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. His best game came against Southern Illinois on December 7 when he tallied 12 points and 12 rebounds and he has also extended his range beyond the arc, hitting a three-pointer per contest.

Abiola Akintola: After hardly seeing court time last season with the Denver Pioneers, Akintola has played every game of his sophomore season with an average of two points and 1.5 rebounds. He scored six points in his debut and while he is still not putting up a heap of shots, he is connecting at 53% from the field.

George Blagojevic: The Hartford Hawks are struggling in the America East Conference at 5-11 and Blagojevic’s minutes have dropped from 26 last season to 16 while he also missed a game in December due to injury. He started the 2016/17 campaign well, scoring in double-figures in two of his first three games but has been unable to maintain his stroke with limited court time lately.

Louise Brown: At 8-8 but on a three-game winning streak, Washington State will take confidence into the New Year as they aim to improve their 1-5 record on the road with their next two games away from home. Brown has only played seven matches where she averages 10.4 points (third best for the team) and 6.9 rebounds (first) while her ability to play both ends of the court is critical to the Cougars’ chances as she also sits third for blocks and sixth for steals.

Stephanie Collins: Having broken the record for blocks in a season last year, Collins is again providing a presence in the paint for SMU with a rejection per game. She is also shooting 50% from the field for almost four points a contest with a majority of her looks coming from in close.

Xavier Cooks: A junior now with the Winthrop Eagles, Cooks has again increased his point production to 16.1 per game with a season high of 30 coming against New Hampshire. He started 2016/17 with a double-double and has recorded six more from his past seven games, including a 13-point, 11-rebound, six-assist effort on December 29. For the first time in his career, he is collecting a steal per game to go with his 1.5 blocks which he has maintained over three seasons.

Josh Derksen: Transferring from Bellarmine University this season, Derksen is enjoying success with the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers who have won ten consecutive games to own a 12-2 record. The 206cm forward has started in nine of those contests, shooting 47% and 37% from distance for 6.8 points per game while he is also the team’s fourth-best shot blocker.

Nicholas Duncan: Atop the Mountain West Conference at 11-4, the Boise State Broncos are flying in Duncan’s senior year. He has scored in double-figures eight times, finding a groove since late December with an average of 11.2 points over his past six clashes while he remains a threat from beyond the arc, shooting 37% for the season.

Alicia Froling: Playing alongside Collins at SMU, Froling has started all 15 games to lead the Mustangs to a 10-5 record as well as an unbeaten record at home. She is averaging a double-double of 15 points and 10.9 rebounds which includes a team-high three offensive boards per game and as their key player, is also averaging 1.9 assists which is third best for the club.

Felix von Hofe: Having upped his point production every season, von Hofe has once again increased his capabilities in his senior year with the Eastern Washington Eagles, going from 13 to 13.7 points per game while shooting 40% from the field and 41% from distance. After drilling seven three-pointers in his 2016/17 debut, the sharp-shooter has hit at least five triples in another three games to help his side to sixth position on the Big Sky Conference standings.

Isaac Humphries: The Kentucky Wildcats are flourishing at the top of the Southeastern Conference and Humphries is trying to find consistency in his sophomore season. Starting the campaign with nine points and eight boards, he followed that up with nine points and nine rebounds on November 23 but is only averaging three and 3.4 in his past seven outings. The 7-foot monster has slimmed down during the off-season though and is committed to the Wildcats cause as they aim for another berth in March.

Jordan Hunter: The first member of the Aussie quintet at St. Mary’s, Hunter has played ten games in his sophomore season including seven of his past eight. While not scoring much, he is hitting 63% of his field goals with the Gaels sitting atop the West Coast Conference at 14-1.

Tanner Krebs: Proving his capabilities in just his second game of his freshman year with St. Mary’s, Krebs tallied 13 points on November 16 and has gone on to record double-digit games twice more in December. On New Year’s Eve, he knocked down 4-4 from three-point range to take his conversion rate to 40%.

Jack McVeigh: McVeigh is almost shooting better from distance than he is overall from the field with a 31% conversion rate from downtown helping him to 5.9 points per game as a sophomore for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He can be a barometer for the team as they are 4-1 when he exceeds his season average and 4-6 when he does not.

Will Magnay: A bright spot for Tulsa who sit at 7-7 on the season, Magnay has impressed in his freshman year to sit sixth with 5.8 points and third with 4.4 rebounds per game. He was scoreless in his debut but began December well, scoring in double-digits in four out of five games including a 13-point, 13-rebound effort in an upset win over Illinois State.

Gerard Martin: Proving himself as a serious defensive stopper in his sophomore season, Martin is the Grand Canyon Antelopes’ steals leader with two per game to go with 5.7 points. His 2.4 assists also places him third and his all-round game was showcased on November 28 when he recorded nine points, six rebounds, three assists and seven steals before collecting 13 points, seven boards, three assists and two steals on December 17.

Emmett Naar: A dead-eye at the offensive end, Naar is again lighting up the offensive end for the Gaels with 10.3 points on 47% from the field, 46% from the three-point line and 86% from the charity stripe. He also sits second for the side with 5.7 assists, having recorded a double-double of 16 points and 11 assists on November 16 before tallying a season-high 19 points on December 29.

Jock Perry: A freshman with St. Mary’s, Perry is yet to see the court but the 216cm centre is a strong future prospect for the school and is sure to be a cornerstone of their future.

Dane Pineau: A senior, Pineau is in his final year with the Gaels and is going out with a bang as the team’s second leading rebounder (5.9) to go with 6.6 points at 60% field goal shooting. With nine blocks in his past three games, he has also taken his average to a rejection per contest.

Alex Sharp: Starting nine games out of 15 in her freshman season, Sharp has already proved a valuable asset for Wake Forest, averaging 7.3 points while sitting second for rebounds (6.7) and third in assists (2.2). With 39 total offensive boards as well as seven blocks, the 185cm guard has impressed at both ends of the floor.

Alanna Smith: With a 13-3 record, Stanford University are again one of the teams to beat in the Pac-12 Conference with Smith adding five points and five rebounds per contest while starting in three games. Her role is more important at the defensive end where she averages 1.7 blocks and sits fourth for steals but she is shooting 41% from the field. If she can improve her long-range shooting which is just 3-18 currently, she will become an even bigger threat offensively as well.

Carly Turner: With five past Centre of Excellence athletes representing the St. Mary’s men, Turner is the sole representative for the women. A starter, she is a complete threat on the court as the team’s leader in blocks while averaging 10.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.1 steals as well as shooting the three-ball at 39%. She needs help from her team mates though with St. Mary’s sitting at 7-8 courtesy of a couple of slow starts.

Dejan Vasiljevic: A known scorer to all who saw him back home, Vasiljevic hit double-digits in his first three outings for the Miami Hurricanes before tallying a season-high 18 points just last week on 6-12 long range shooting. Averaging two makes from the three-point line per game has not slowed down his conversion rate, shooting at 42% overall.

Kristy Wallace: Baylor University are used to success and this season has been no different with a 15-1 record helped along by Wallace’s 6.1 points and 5.1 assists (a team high). Having started every game, the Aussie has been very influential in her junior year with the team currently on a 13-game winning streak.

Jack White: Finding his feet with Duke, White collected five points and two boards in his debut but has since played only half of the games for the season. The Blue Devils sit third in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 14-2 so hopefully we see some more court time for White during March Madness.