Record number of Aussies set to compete in the NCAA tournament

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A record number of Australians, 23, will represent 16 schools in the men’s and women’s NCAA Division 1 tournaments beginning on Friday.

Deng Adel (Louisville Cardinals)- Louisville have earned the #2 seed in the Midwest with two Australians representing them. Adel has averaged 11.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in the back court for the Cardinals this season, playing a major role but his team has stumbled slightly in the lead-up to the tournament, dropping them of their last five games.

Kyle Clark (St. Mary’s Gaels)- A three-point specialist, Clark is only averaging ten minutes of court time for St. Mary’s but has made the most of those minutes, shooting 43% from the field and 38% from downtown. He also sits sixth for the club in total steals.

Grace Collett (Gonzaga Bulldogs)- Playing eight games in her freshman season, Collett is averaging only 1.4 points per contest so may not see much court time in the tournament with Gonzaga (the 11th seed) set to face Oklahoma (the 6th seed) in their first match-up.

Xavier Cooks (Winthrop Eagles)- Winthrop have enjoyed a solid season, entering the tournament with a 26-6 record and Cooks has been one of their stars. He has averaged near a double-double with 16.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in his third year, scoring in double-figures in each of his past ten contests.

Maddy Dennis (Dayton Flyers)- In her sophomore season, Dennis has more than doubled her career point average while also starting eight out of 27 games. Her best performance came on January 10 when she collected 12 points but having averaged only four minutes in her past ten outings, the forward may not see much court time during the tournament.

Gorjok Gak (Florida Gators)- Featuring in 11 games this season, Gak has been a presence under the rim when he is on the court but without consistent minutes he has not been able to make much of an impact. At 6’11”, he is a handy role player to come off the bench should the Gators forwards get into foul trouble.

Rebekah Hatchard (Montana State Bobcats)- While only averaging two points per game, Hatchard has been effective from the field on 16-45 shooting for the season. Montana State have a tough first-round match-up though as they go up against Washington in their opponent’s home city.

Isaac Humphries (Kentucky Wildcats)- Kentucky earned the number two seed in the South after they won the 2017 SEC Championship and Humphries has continued to grow into his role as the team’s back-up centre with three points and three boards in about ten minutes per game. At 29-5, Kentucky will go into the first round as favourites against Northern Kentucky.

Jordan Hunter (St. Mary’s Gaels)- The second Australian member of the Gaels, Hunter is not expected to see much game time in the tournament although he has played 25 for the season. Averaging just 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds per contest, the centre still sits equal fifth in the club for blocks.

Tanner Krebs (St. Mary’s Gaels)- Through 30 games in 2016/17, Krebs is shooting 36% from the field and three-point line, having drilled 29 three’s. He will be hoping to play a role as they get set to face Florida Gulf Coast in the first round.

Jock Landale (St. Mary’s Gaels)- The Gaels’ leading scorer and rebounder, Landale is averaging 16.2 points and 9.2 boards while hitting a very impressive 61% from the field. He has started every game for the season and sits second for total blocks with his performance at both ends of the court key to St. Mary’s chances.

Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (Baylor Bears)- Baylor started the year with 15 consecutive victories but dropped to the number three seed in the East as they lost four of their last seven games. Lual-Acuil Jr. has been very impressive in his junior year, averaging 9.2 points, seven rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, but will have to wait until Saturday to hit the court in the Bears’ first round match-up with New Mexico State.

Mangok Mathiang (Louisville Cardinals)- Alongside Adel, Mathiang will be aiming to help carry Louisville far into the tournament with the club expected to at least reach the Sweet Sixteen. A senior, Mathiang’s experience will be important as we head into the business end of the season as will be his average of 7.4 points and 6.1 rebounds.

Chima Moneke (UC Davis Aggies)- UC Davis won the Big West Championship to earn qualification into the tournament and Moneke was the star of the Aggies’ victory as he was named the tournament’s MVP. Averaging 14.4 points and 9.4 rebounds, the junior out of Canberra is obviously not afraid of the limelight and could be set for some big performances in March.

Emmett Naar (St. Mary’s Gaels)- The team’s third leading scorer with 9.5 points per game, Naar has been a starter in all 32 games leading up to the tournament. His very impressive 42% mark from the three-point line is one of the Gaels’ best weapons while he also averages a team best 5.8 assists per contest, making him a serious offensive threat.

Keanu Pinder (Arizona Wildcats)- Perth’s Keanu Pinder has provided a handy presence off the bench for Arizona with 2.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game with the energy he brings crucial to the Wildcats winning the battle on the boards. If they can advance to the Round of 32 they likely face a match-up with St. Mary’s and a large contingent of Australians.

Dane Pineau (St Mary’s Gaels)- The final Aussie of that St. Mary’s list is Pineau with the forward recording 7.3 points and 6.7 rebounds across 31 games this season. Shooting 61% from the field with a majority of his baskets coming only inches away from the rim, Pineau’s combination with Landale in the front court will be critical to the team’s chances.

Alanna Smith (Stanford Cardinal)- The sophomore forward has enjoyed another impressive season with Stanford, sitting fourth for points per game at 8.2 while only playing 18 minutes per contest. Her 45% mark from the field allows her to be so efficient in small minutes while she also sits third for the club in rebounds and second in total offensive boards.

Jacinta Vandenberg (Oregon Ducks)- Playing alongside fellow Aussie Yaegar, Vandenberg averages only 2.2 points per game for Oregon but has started 13 games this season while playing 31 overall with her defence the key to her game, collecting 20 total steals to sit fifth for the club.

Dejan Vasiljevic (Miami Hurricanes)- A known scorer and deadly three-point shooter, Vasiljevic has improved as the season has worn on. He now averages 6.1 points and is hitting 35% from the three-point line with that shooting required if Miami are going to get past Michigan State in the first round on Saturday.

Kristy Wallace (Baylor Athletics)- A key member of Baylor again this year, Wallace is averaging 6.8 points and shooting 43% from the field. The number one seed, they face Texas Southern in the first round and could eventually face Mississippi State in a mouthwatering Semi-Final.

Jack White (Duke Blue Devils)- Duke completed a stirring comeback win over Notre Dame to win the ACC Championship but with White not playing many minutes throughout the season, it is unlikely we will see much of him in the tournament.

Morgan Yaeger (Oregon Ducks)- Playing 31 games, Yaegar continues to scratch out a role with the Ducks as she now averages ten minutes per contest. Scoring only 2.3 points though, Yaegar may not see much of the court though as Oregon prepare for a first round match-up with Temple.