With the 2014/15 NCAA college season fast approaching, Damian Arsenis takes a look at some of the new Aussie faces who have joined the Division I ranks.
Heading to US college has fast become a preferred development pathway for an increasing number of Australian men. Season 2014/15 proves no different; with 16 incoming freshman (not counting ineligible Jonah Bolden) and 3 junior transfers set to play Division I basketball this year. Some will get an opportunity to play big minutes and make an immediate impact, while others will be required to be patient, bide their time and embrace every opportunity that may come their way.
Here are just a sample of the talented fresh Aussie faces to keep an eye out for this season.
Deng Deng | Baylor
One of the more experienced new faces this season is the athletic Deng Deng who transfers to Baylor for his junior year after two outstanding seasons with Lee College in Texas. The 6’8″ forward Deng previously attended Box Hill Senior Secondary College in Melbourne, and has an interesting story to tell after arriving in Australia at the age of 9 as a Sudanese refugee via Egypt.
The big man racked up an impressive 19 double-doubles in 29 games for Lee College last season, averaging 19.8 points and 11 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He was duly named NJCAA second-team All-Region 14 and first-team All-South Zone as a result. He arrives at Baylor with high expectations and subsequently should see immediate playing time as part of the main rotation.
Marley BIYENDOLO | Pepperdine
Biyendolo who red-shirted last season is a graduate of the Andrew Bogut Academy in Melbourne via the Dandenong Rangers program. It will be really interesting to see how he goes this coming season given he has been exposed to the Pepperdine program for a year now without playing a competitive game.
Although there are a number of sophomore guards on the roster, the athletic 6’3″ guard will be hoping to crack the main rotation in his first year on court for the Waves. If he can take his chances early on, he could play a key back up role on this team in a very tough West Coast Conference this coming season.
Kai HEALY | Santa Clara
The feisty guard from New South Wales played representative basketball with Hornsby and Scots College in Sydney. In his final year with Scots College, his loaded team ran up a staggering 40-1 record, with the only loss coming at the hands of Dante Exum’s Ginninderra College in the national championship game.
Healy led the Australian U19 team in scoring at the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships, and won a gold medal for Australia at the 2013 Youth Olympics in the 3×3 competition. A jack of all trades, his on court toughness, competitiveness and leadership will be something that the Broncos may well need immediately. With a large number of first year players on the team, he has a great opportunity to play significant minutes as a freshman.
Learn more about Healy from The Pick and Roll’s exclusive interview with him here.
Jack PURCHASE | Auburn
The son of former NBL player Nigel, Purchase is a 6’8″ sweet-shooting forward from the Melbourne Tigers with range to beyond the three-point arc. An Australian U17 national team representative that won silver at the 2012 FIBA World Championships, he also earned MVP honours in the grand final of the Big V Youth League State Championship.
Head Coach Bruce Pearl stated that Purchase was in his top 10 players and would be a part of the main rotation – big wraps for a freshman player in the Southeastern Conference. He noted that his new recruit was a good shooter, a high basketball IQ and is a great passer. If Purchase can embrace the opportunities presented early, he could set himself up for a big season and a great collegiate career.
Learn more about Purchase from The Pick and Roll’s exclusive interview with him here.
Jock LANDALE | Saint Mary’s
The 6’11” center from the Geelong Basketball Association is a Country Victoria junior representative who has also played for Australia at U19 level in the Four Nations Tournament in China last year. As a true center, he has an ability to score all around the basket but can also hit the short-range jumper as well.
With the Gael’s lacking depth at his position, he brings some genuine size to the Saint Mary’s program. For that reason alone he should be expected to see some good minutes as the primary back-up at center to returning senior forward (who has been playing center) Brad Waldow. This season could well be Landale’s audition for the starting center role as a sophomore next year.
David HUMPHRIES | Loyola Marymount
A two-time All-American at Northern Iowa Area Community College, South Australian David Humphries arrives at LMU with some lofty expectations. After averaging more than 20 points and 8 rebounds per game over the past two years, he was selected to the NJCAA Division II third-team all-American team last season after being a first-team selection as a freshman.
As an experienced junior transfer, he is mature and a read-made player for former Adelaide 36ers and current LMU Head Coach Mike Dunlap. Humphries is likely to slot straight into the main rotation if not a spot in the starting five. Either way, he is sure to make an impact in his first season of Division I basketball.
Emmett NAAR | Saint Mary’s
Landale is not the only new Aussie face at Saint Mary’s this season! With a long and successful history with Australian point guards, the 6’1″ Naar joins the Gael’s with a shot at cracking the rotation after red-shirting last year. A true play-making point, don’t expect him to score heavily however he plays both ends of the floor with harassing defensive intensity.
With a season on campus under his belt and a chance to acclimatise to the team and their plays, the former Australian junior representative from Sydney is sure to grasp the opportunities that are presented. The only question is how quickly he can adapt and how he copes playing in the shadows of the likes of Mills and Dellavedova before him.
And not to forget these new Aussie faces either…
- Majok DENG | Louisiana Monroe
- Jamie BATISH | Western Illinois
- Xavier COOKS | Winthrop
- Johnny CRNOGORAC | Mississippi
- Matthew JACKSON | Grand Canyon
- Fabijan KRSLOVIC | Montana
- Geremy MCKAY | Albany
- Gerard MARTIN | Grand Canyon
- James RINGHOLT| Texas-San Antonio
- Josh SPIERS | Loyola Marymount
You can find the full list of Aussie men in Division I college hoops HERE.
Stay tuned for the All-Aussie Pre-Season Awards coming soon!