Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 12/10/11

I guess Canadians are getting better at college basketball. Illinois has faced two Canadian born NBA draft prospects this week. Robert Sacre from Gonzaga was the first; 6-9, 240 lb. Ontario native Andrew Nicholson was the second.

The Illini had the UGLIEST win in human history, 48-43  over the St Bonaventure Bonnies this week, and Nicholson was the focal point for the Bonnies on both ends of the floor. He led the team in scoring with a 17-8; but he shot a very ugly 7-18 from the floor.

Nevertheless, Nicholson is a guy who can take it inside and outside. His versatility has impressed NBA scouts, and he’s a name college basketball fans should get to know.

Nicholson had an off night versus Illinois, partially because he had to match up with 7-1 Meyers Leonard.

“Just getting the ball in the right areas, he’s a talented guy and they’re playing him straight up, usually that doesn’t happen in our league. He’s usually getting a lot of double teams and I thought he had some good looks, but missed some shots that he usually makes,” Nicholson’s coach Mark Schmidt said about Nicholson’s abilities/match-up Wednesday night.

After he brought up Cap’n Crunch when discussing his schedule.

It was said that Meyers Leonard had an “off night” as well- because he didn’t take many shots, and his night was very quiet- compared to the previous game- a career high 21 versus #18 Gonzaga. But Meyers put up a 9-8 (leading the team on the boards) and 3-3 from the field. So he just missed a double double, and he had three crucial back taps on critical offensive possessions to keep the Illini in it.

Nicholson was named to the Wooden and Naismith Preseason Watch List; as well as the Lute Olsen Preseason All-America and Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Teams. He’s a strong candidate for All-American honors.

And Illini Coach Bruce Weber was quite impressed with him:

“he was even better than I anticipated,” Weber said

“I think he’s got a chance (to go the NBA), he’s mobile, agile, he can do a lot of things.  And we have some agile big men. He’s still 7-18 with 6 turnovers, but he asked to do a lot because everyone knows they’re going to him,” Bruce continued.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio shows all across the world. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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