Canada Basketball star taking her talents to South Beach

2021-2022 ACC Freshman of the Year gets a fresh start.

Canadian hoops is on an upward trajectory like never before. Kitchener, Ontario’s Jamal Murray won an NBA title with the Denver Nuggets in June, and just one month later the men’s and women’s U23 teams took home silver at Globl Jam in Toronto. All of which lead up to the historic moment when the senior men’s national team won bronze at the FIBA World Cup in August.

For fans hoping to see more Canadians ball out on the hardwood, you won’t have to look further than Shayeann Day-Wilson who’s about to head into her third year of NCAA basketball.

The 20-year-old point guard from the west end of Toronto is one of the premier basketball talents this country has to offer. According to ESPN HoopGurlz, she was the top Canadian guard in the class of 2021, and those who’ve chronicled her career consider her a prospect destined for the WNBA.

A member of the national program since 2021, Day-Wilson has already won a gold medal for the country at Globl Jam 2022 and picked up silver with the aforementioned U23 team this past July.

Needless to say, with her junior season set to kick off in under a month, this time for a new squad, you’ll want to keep your eyes on her.

She spent her first two years of collegiate basketball with the Duke Blue Devils and averaged 10.2 points, three rebounds, and 3.1 assists, subsequently earning herself ACC Freshman of the Year honours. It marked the first time a female Canadian won the award and was just the second time someone north of the border took home that distinction.

When women’s college basketball tips off on November 9, Day-Wilson will still be balling out in the ACC, but she’ll be suiting up for conference opponent the Miami Hurricanes instead.

Her decision to head down south was based not only on what she wanted for her game but also on the ability to maximize her value off the court.

“Miami was just a school I really always had in mind,” said the 2021-2022 All-ACC freshman team member.

“In terms of play style, the coaching staff…and life outside of basketball as well, getting paid for my image and likeness.”

To put things into perspective, twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder spent one season with the Hurricanes last year and reportedly earned anywhere between 1.6 – 2 million dollars (USD).

For Day-Wilson, the new reality as a college athlete in the United States is that she can capitalize on her talents before the professional level, something she doesn’t want to waste.

“Things like NIL opportunities are really good, we’re the ones putting on the jersey, going out there and pouring our blood, sweat, and tears…so it’s nice to see opportunities for us to get rewarded for that.”

Despite the vast potential off the court, the point guard wants to make it clear that she’ll mean even more business on the floor.

“The goal is to definitely win a national championship,” said the college junior.

South Florida will gladly welcome Day-Wilson and her bag of moves as a new weapon on offence as they try to achieve that goal. Her career average of 10.2 points per game while at Duke would’ve been good enough for third on Miami a season ago, who had just two double-digit scorers.

She describes her game as a mix between Kyrie Irving and James Harden, and if you ask fellow canuck Drake (yes, that Drake), he’d probably say it’s a fair assessment.

He gave Day-Wilson the nickname “yellow-tape Shy,” after the two of them played one-on-one at Drake’s in-home basketball court. The moniker was given for her killer playstyle and as a nod to her lethal step-back move she used to score against him.

Winning a national title with Miami won’t be the only goal for the 5-foot-six guard, as she also wants to prove that she’s one of the best playmakers in college.

“My personal goal is to become the best point guard in the NCAA for women’s basketball. Day-Wilson said. “I’ll do that by working hard and staying humble…I’m looking to win, I’m a winner.”

Her emphasis on wanting to be a creator on offence is something that should excite Hurricanes’ fans, as the 21-13 squad sorely lacked that element a year ago. The point guard’s 3.1 assists per game as a Blue Devil would’ve led Miami last year had she played for the team.

Another exciting part of Day-Wilson joining her new squad is that she’ll get to see some familiar faces. The point guard will be inserted into a roster that includes three other national team members, a factor she credits as part of why Miami felt right for her new journey.

Lemyah Hylton (Mississauga), Lashae Dwyer (Toronto), and Latasha Lattimore (Toronto) will all join the 2020 Bio Steel All-Canadian as members of the Hurricanes.

Lattimore specifically has had a close relationship with Day-Wilson as the two played together prior to college, winning back-to-back OSBA high school championships at Crestwood Prep. Their partnership was even set to continue at the next level as both players initially committed to Syracuse University before ultimately making their way to Texas and Duke respectively.

Few players know Day-Wilson as well as Lattimore and when the forward was asked back in high school who her point guard resembled at the pro level, she went with the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi. Not just for her ability to get buckets, but also for her leadership and toughness on the court. Fitting considering Day-Wilson considers the guard as one of her favourite players from the W.

If you ask her where she gets her Taurasi-like grit, Day-Wilson will instantly say it was her community of Falstaff. Growing up she spent hours playing against the boys out of her local gym at Falstaff Community Centre and credits much of her early development to those moments.

Now Day-Wilson wears the number 30 to represent her neighbourhood of 30 Falstaff and show love for all the support they’ve given her.

She hopes to represent both her community and country when the Miami Hurricanes kick off their season on November 9 at home against Jacksonville University.

Ahead of her debut with her new team, Day-Wilson kept her message simple.

“I’m just really excited to start my new journey and I’m really looking forward to it.”