Taran Armstrong announces himself on the college hoops stage
The California Baptist Lancers freshman is the latest in a rising wave of talented Australian guards, and likely not the last.
Tasmanian product Taran Armstrong has joined the growing list of tall Aussie point guards making their mark in the USA, alongside the likes of Josh Giddey, Dyson Daniels and Ben Simmons. Armstrong is a recent graduate of the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, where he came through the same age group as recent NBA draftee Giddey.
It was Giddey who stole the show throughout their time together at the NBA Global Academy, with Armstrong adjusting to more of an off-ball role in the presence of his prodigious teammate. Armstrong faced similar challenges at the 2021 FIBA Under-19 World Cup, where Dyson Daniels, Biwali Bayles and Jaylin Galloway commanded a large chunk of the backcourt minutes and touches. The Tasmanian averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists in 17 minutes per game for Australia, but struggled to get into a rhythm with his shot, making just 31% of his attempts from the field.
Now Armstrong has ascended to a starting point guard role in NCAA Division I, allowing him to step out of Giddey's shadow. Armstrong was recruited by the California Baptist Lancers, a school that recently made the jump to Division I in 2018, and offered him the chance to play alongside brother Tre. The college rookie has wasted no time in starting his career, putting up gaudy numbers in the Lancers' opening seven games.
Armstrong is currently averaging 12.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.6 assists in over 30 minutes each night, including a triple double in just his fourth collegiate game. At one point the passing maestro was even leading the NCAA in assists, a feat only achieved by three other freshmen in history - Trae Young, Lonzo Ball and T.J. Ford. Unfortunately Armstrong was toppled from this position, but expect him to be near the top of the assists leaderboard throughout the Division I season.
Just five games into his collegiate career, Armstrong faced a major test against the heralded Texas Longhorns program.