The 2019/20 college basketball season is now upon us and as always, there's plenty of Aussies to keep an eye on. All in all, 68 Australians will be on rosters in Division One, which is up from last year's total of 65. While there are a number of players who have the potential to impress for their respective schools throughout the season, here are five that deserve the attention of all Australian college hoops fans.
5. Dejan Vasiljevic (Miami):
Miami's Dejan Vasiljevic is entering his senior season with the Hurricanes and he's hoping it can be his best yet. The 6'3" guard from Melbourne is coming off an impressive season where he averaged 11.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three. Unfortunately for Vasiljevic however, these numbers didn't translate to much success for the Hurricanes, as they failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
Vasiljevic may be one of Australia's best collegiate shooters. Not only did he finish sixth in the ACC - arguably the nation's best conference - in three-point field goals made last season, but he has also made a total of 199 three-pointers in his career so far. That's good for eighth in Miami Hurricanes history.
In their pre-season tour to Italy, Vasiljevic top scored for the 'Canes, averaging 16.5 points across three games, which was the best mark on the team. If he can continue leading this team from the front and hitting threes at a high clip -- which Miami will need him to do after losing three starters from last season -- then there's a good chance he will be one of the most productive Australians in the nation.
4. Jack White (Duke):
Another player who hopes to play a big part in his team's 2019/20 success is another senior out of the ACC, Duke's Jack White. White, who is the Blue Devils' returning captain, was an important role player for the Zion Williamson-led Duke team of last season. Although he might not have had the season-long impact that he would have liked, the 6'9" forward finished with career highs for points per game (4.1), rebounds per game (4.7), blocks per game (1.1), assists per game (0.7), steals per game (0.6) and blocks per game, as well as games played (35) and games started (3).
One thing White will be hoping for from this season is improved consistency. In the first 13 matches of the season, White was shooting a red-hot 41 percent from three; one of the best marks in the entire country. However, after a 0-10 showing against Syracuse in January he lost all confidence in his shot, and went on a much publicized 0 from 26 streak from 3. This prolonged showing of the yips saw his total season shooting percentage tumble well below 30 percent.
Through all of this however, White maintained his value to the team with his hard work, leadership and defensive presence. If he can bring these values to the team once again this season, he will once again play many important minutes for what will be one of the best teams in the country.
3. Kyrin Galloway (UNCG):
While the other players on this list are all going to be featured on national television multiple times throughout the season, one player whose school will more than likely fly under the radar is UNCG's Kyrin Galloway. Galloway is a 6'8" forward who is coming off his best season with the Spartans, finishing with averages of 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. In fact, in each of the past three seasons, Galloway has seen an increase in Games Played, Minutes, Three-Point Percentage, Assists, Blocks, Steals and Points. There's no reason to believe he can't accomplish that same feat again this season, especially considering the fact the Spartans' best player and leading scorer from last season, Francis Alonso, has graduated.
It's not unrealistic to think that Galloway may have the biggest improvement out of any returning Australian on any college roster this season, and if UNCG can bounce back from their heartbreaking loss in the Southern Conference Final against Wofford last season, then Galloway might even get a taste of that spotlight that some of his Australian peers will be getting.
2. Tanner Krebs, Jock Perry, Kyle Bowen and Alex Ducas (Saint Mary's):
It's too hard to choose just one Australian player to keep an eye on when you're talking about the team that has been dubbed by many as the Australian Gaels. This season's Saint Mary's roster boasts four Australians (as well as two New Zealanders), which is actually a drop from last year's total of five and the lowest since the 2014/15 season total of three. While there might not be a dominant name amongst these four like a Jock Landale or Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett will still make sure his Australians are getting plenty of game time and contributing like he knows they can.
The Gaels are coming off a successful and exciting 2018/19 season, which saw them beat conference rivals Gonzaga in the WCC championship game to make their seventh March Madness appearance since 2005. This, coupled with the fact the team is bringing back nearly 90 percent of its scoring from last season, is why the Gaels are entering this season as a nationally ranked team. Expect them to continue to challenge Gonzaga as the best side in the WCC.
NOTE: While the Gaels are still the team that most Australian hoops fans identify with, if you're looking to follow other teams with strong Australian representation, then make sure to keep an eye on Cal Baptist (four Australians) Albany (three), Eastern Washington (three), Hawaii (three) and UC Riverside (three).
1. Josh Green (Arizona):
Even if you're only a casual college hoops fan, chances are you're aware of the hype surrounding five-star recruit Josh Green. Green is ranked eighth (fourth among guards) in ESPN's 100 College Recruits list for the 2019/20 season, making him the highest ranked Australian since Ben Simmons topped the rankings back in 2015.
The former Australian Rules football player played his high school ball at IMG Academy in Florida, where he was named MVP in the school's first ever national championship win. He had offers from a variety of schools including Kansas, North Carolina and Villanova, but he ultimately decided to join Sean Miller and the 21st-ranked Arizona Wildcats. Standing at 6'6" with a 6'10" wingspan, Green has the size and athleticism to play a number of positions on the floor both offensively and defensively.
Green is coming off a shoulder injury, which sidelined him from a potential berth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but neither Green nor the team are worried this will affect him when their season begins against Northern Arizona.
Suiting up alongside the 2019 McDonalds All-American will be another highly ranked guard; Arizona local Nico Mannion (ninth overall and fifth ranked guard in the nation). Both players have already been named to the Julius Irving and Bob Cousey pre-season watch lists for best shooting guard and point guard in the nation respectively. The duo, who could very well be the most exciting backcourt in the entire country this season, will hope to lead the Wildcats back into March Madness for the first time since their tumultuous 2018 season campaign.
One For The Future: Anyang Garang (Oklahoma):
Any time an Australian commits to a program of the high caliber of Oklahoma, it's worth noting. Garang, a 6'8", 86kg forward out of Adelaide, may not have the chance to prove his worth until the 2020/21 season after it was announced earlier this week he would be redshirted for the upcoming season, but once he is finally able to grace the hardwood in Norman, he will have the opportunity to show what he is capable of.
Garang, an athletic wing who can play a number of positions on the floor, first came to Australia as a refugee from Uganda, via South Sudan. When he was five years old, his family fled to Australia to escape civil war. As many Australian hoops fans might be aware of, Australia has a strong South Sudanese population, and many of them have established a sense of community through the game of basketball. This is how Garang fell in love with the game, and eventually, how he was recognized as a premier talent. While we're still at least 12 months away from watching him play, he's one name to file away and remember for when his time comes.