CHN’s preseason list of the best import (i.e. Non-American) NCAA players is lacking one thing – a superstar. Last year’s star, Al Horford, is off playing for pay, leaving the shelves a little thin. To bump up the talent level, Alaska & Hawaii natives have also been added to the mix this year.
While there probably isn’t an All-American or NBA lottery pick among this bunch, this year’s top imports are still a solid group, all capable of being one of the top players in their respective conferences.
Guard - Aaron Bruce – Baylor – SR (Australia)
06/07 – 11.3ppg, 3.4apg, 61 3pts
After bursting onto the NCAA scene as a freshman, Bruce’s numbers have steadily declined. This season is his last shot at resurrected what looked like a sure fire career in the NBA. Even with his declining numbers, the Aussie has been one of the top players in the Big 12 throughout his career, being named Honorable Mention All-Big-12 all three years. Expect him to be an all-conference level player again this season.
Guard – Derrick Low – Washington State - SR (Hawaii)
06/07 – 13.7ppg, 1.3spg, 75 3pts
After a spectacular 06/07 season, the expectation level has been raised for the Cougars and for their leading scorer Low. After missing five games his freshman year and eight his sophomore season, Low played all 34 games for Washington State last season and improved his scoring average by over five points per game. This season he is primed to make one of the All-Pac-10 teams and could lead the Cougars deep into the NCAA tournament.
Guard – Mario Chalmers – Kansas – JR (Alaska)
06/07 – 12.2ppg, 3.3apg, 2.6spg
Kansas is another team that should go deep into the tournament in March, in no small part to the play of the ball-hawking Chalmers. Perhaps the Big 12’s top defender, the Anchorage native already has 186 steals in just 71 collegiate contests. Chalmers should successfully defend his Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award this season and should also end up on one of the All-Big-12 team.
Forward - Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – UCLA – JR (Cameroon)
06/07 – 8.2ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.7spg
With Kevin Love aboard, UCLA is set in the post so Mbah a Moute is expected to be playing the small forward spot this season. The Cameroon import was a bit of a disappointment last season after a very promising rookie campaign. It will be interesting to see how the move out to the wing spot affects his game.
Center - Aleks Maric – Nebraska – SR (Australia)
06/07 – 18.5ppg, 8.7rpg, 1.1bpg
After briefly looking to transfer out of Nebraska before his junior campaign, Maric changed his mind and came back with the season of his life. The Cornhuskers relied heavily on the big man last season, and this year looks to be no different. The top returning scorer and rebounder in the Big 12 this season, Maric will be looking to pique some NBA scouts’ interest this season.
Guard - Greivis Vasquez - Maryland
Center - Luke Nevill - Utah
Center - Hasheem Thabeet - Connecticut
Forward - Juan Palacios – Louisville
In addition to these top-returning players, there is a solid crop of freshmen from lands far and wide. Leading the way are big men Vanderbilt’s Andrew Ogilvy (Australia), St. John’s Ayodele Coker (Nigeria), Boubacar Sylla at Auburn (France), Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre (Canada) and DePaul’s Mac Koshwal (Chicago, by way of Canada, by way of the Sudan).