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Record number of Canadians in March Madness is part of an ongoing basketball success story

Record number of Canadians in March Madness is part of an ongoing basketball success story

Canada has seen double-digit numbers of its homegrown basketballย players taking part in March Madness in recent years, a testament to the deep pool of talent on this side of the border.

Fifty-three such athletes are part of this year’s famed NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, which Canada Basketball says is a record โ€” though the tournaments have had at least 50 Canadian participants for three consecutive years, including this one.

University of Connecticut forwardย Aaliyah Edwards,ย fromย Kingston, Ont.,ย is one such player, and she attributes her success to herย “big sisters” on the Canadianย senior women’s national team who mentored her.

“Big shout-outย to them; just a big shout-out to the Canadian basketball family,” sheย told CBC News, adding she hopes she can make a similar impact on the next generation of players.

“All those little girls who aspire to be in my position … [who]ย want to pick up a basketball and are passionate about it, just know you can be successful if you put your mind to it and keep your family close.”ย 

WATCH |ย Edwards on her Canadian support and inspiration:ย 

UConn basketball player Aaliyah Edwards on her Canadian support and inspiration

Aaliyah Edwards thanked her teammates from the Canadian women’s national basketball team for helping her compete as a student-athlete for the UConn Huskies and contend for a U.S. collegiate championship.

‘Canadians are here to stay’

Matt Slan, the founder and CEO of Slan Sports Management, said that number is unlikely to shift muchย with Canada producing so many great players.

“Canadians are here to stay in terms of basketball,” said Slan, who remembers the days when it was a hard sell to get players from this side of the border noticed.

To his point, there were 50 Canadian players involved in March Madnessย in 2022.

A year earlier, 25 men and 27 women were part of the tournaments, according to Canada Basketball-reported numbers.

There were no March Madness games at all in 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Pretty consistent’ appearances

Michael Meeks, the assistant general manager of Canada Basketball’s men’s basketball operations, says the number of March Madness players with Canadian roots has been “pretty consistent” in recent years.

But it’s not a surprise, given the success of Canadian players that has been followed by the players coming up behind them.

A Canadian basketball player sets up a practice shot.
Zach Edey is seen getting ready to take a practice shot in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday. The Purdue Boilmakers…

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