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Canadian Roundup: March Madness 2024 (w/ Josh Codinera)

Scouting Future SMNT Bigs with "The Big Dance" Kicking Off

Canada’s bronze medal finish at the 2023 FIBA World Cup was a historic, monumental moment for the men’s program on the international stage. For years, the potential success of the new generation of Canada Basketball at high leverage international competitions had been discussed at length, by fans, analysts and athletes alike. The 2023 summer was the first time the new generation’s potential had been actualized by the Senior Men’s National Team.

Despite the success, the 2023 FIBA World Cup also exposed some major weaknesses with the roster construction. Canada, without a strong secondary ball handler, relied immensely on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s shoulders for perimeter creation. It’s a credit to the level of superstardom that SGA has ascended to that he was able to take all that defensive attention and creation volume and still be incredibly efficient (67.7% TS%), leading Canada to a 124.4 Offensive Rating (the 2nd highest at the tournament via hackastat). Given Canada’s player pool, this issue should be resolved (in theory) for the 2024 Olympics. Without even going past the “Summer Core”, guards Jamal Murray, Kevin Pangos and Cory Joseph could all slot in. If Canada Basketball does decide to make additions from outside the core, Andrew Nembhard’s offensive feel and defensive processing would be invaluable alongside SGA.

The more alarming issue came from Canada’s frontcourt. Dwight Powell and Kelly Olynyk filled in admirably all tournament long but their finesse and skill was often physically overmatched with brute strength as Canada went deeper into the tournament. Willy Hernangomez and especially Nikola Milutinov were dominant inside against Canada in the knockout stages. While Zach Edey was on the team, he did not get meaningful minutes throughout the World Cup, which was a decision I wasn’t totally on board with. Unfortunately, outside of Edey who may not even be available this summer due to NBA draft commitments, the Canada player pool for high-level bruising frontcourt help is negligible. While I remain high on Kyle Alexander (you can find my work on his play this year in my EuroCup roundup), Trey Lyles and Kyle Wiltjer’s impact on the SMNT as role players, they aren’t solving the original issue on the interior. Mfiondu Kabengele, who had a strong rookie year in Europe when healthy this season, might fit that role perfectly, but he hasn’t suited up for the SMNT in his pro career yet and I don’t think it’s within the realm of possibility he gets the call this summer. Next Olympic cycle though, he needs to be integrated to the program.

With this glaring weakness in mind and March Madness right around the corner, what better time than now to start the search for some of Canada’s potential future frontcourt depth. Now, I’m not a scout so I’ve enlisted the help of Josh Codinera, a Scout/Basketball Analyst for OnPointScouting, to help with creating scouting reports on some of Canada’s brightest senior bigs at the D1 collegiate level. His basketball eye and attention to detail is truly unparalleled and I always learn a ton from his work. Case in point, his film session sitdown with 2023 NBA draft pick Leonard Miller.

Or if you’re a frequent viewer of the Raptors Republic YouTube channel, you’ll already be familiar with Josh’s work with Samson, going in depth on the nuances of Gradey Dick’s game.

Without further ado, let’s dive into Josh’s scouting reports.

Scouting Reports

Zach Edey – Purdue Boilermakers

  • Class: Senior
  • Age: 21 (May 14th, 2002)
  • Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
  • Height: 7’4″

National Team Experience: The only player listed with SMNT experience, Edey made his debut (and only apperance) for the Junior National Team back at the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup, where he led Canada to a 3rd place finish, just the second time Canada has finished on the U19 podium. Edey’s tournament averages of 15.1 PPG and 14.1 REB earned him All-Star 5 honours. And yes, that is Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren (plus Nikola Jovic and Jaden Ivey) in the photo below.

Notable Statistics (per cbbref):

32.3 USG%, 24.2 PPG (62 FG%, 76.2 FG% at the rim – 92 total dunks on the season, 71.8 FT% – .826 FTr)

11.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.2 BPG, 15.6 BPM


Current Role: Edey spends 63% of his offensive possessions in the post where he is a dominant physical force as a finisher. That dominance creates a lot of havoc for opposing defenses who need to send multiple defenders to try to oppose his size.

Purdue constantly tries to create opportunities for Edey to seal any defender in the post with space. The Boilermakers often start him in actions in the elbow area (ex. Horns, Iverson) using him as a screener and rolling into post-ups or back seals while the defense is occupied by the initial actions. In transition and early offense, he rim-runs and dives to the basket to create those same quick-hit opportunities.

Standout Traits:

  • Massive catch radius – At 7’4, 285lbs with a 7’10 wingspan, wide frame, and decent mobility, Edey is a huge target on rolls and post-ups at the rim. Purdue can weaponize higher passing angles that only Edey can catch, and he can carve his own space to finish a powerful dunk or drop step hook. Edey’s size requires heavy weak side shading and tags, creating opportunities for advantages on the opposite side that Purdue can exploit. Incorporating some kind of “decoy” actions with Edey to punish weakside help (perhaps an RJ Barrett
    “Maggette” cut
    from the corner) is something that the SMNT can immediately add to their playbook.
  • Gaining and maintaining position around the rim – Teams need multiple defenders or varied schemes to stop Edey from getting position down low. When he does get positioning, he’s hard to keep off the offensive glass. He constantly looks to push his defender into the post and he can gain and re-gain position well on re-posts. On deep post-ups, his go-to move is turning to his left shoulder. The battle for positioning and his size overall leads to a lot of free-throw opportunities (nearly 11 per game) where he is a respectable 71.8%. In addition, he has consistently led the Big Ten conference in offensive rebounding due to his immovable size. 

Areas of Improvement/Concerns:

  • Slow passing reads – With the amount of usage Edey receives (32.7% – one of the highest in the nation), he can be slow in making passing reads out of the post. He doesn’t always see the double team coming and that really slows down his read progressions. An Edey-led offense while efficient, especially at the D1 level, can be quite predictable. 
  • Scoring efficiency further from the basket – Edey is also not the best at catching in space further away from the basket. He can settle sometimes for hook/push shots when he is pushed out closer to the short mid-range and he’s not as efficient there. At the rim, he is 82% and just 41% on other 2-PT shots.

Current Role: Purdue schemes Edey in deep drop to keep him close to the rim to deter drives, protect the rim, and keep him available to close possessions with a rebound. Depending on the match-up, they are sometimes comfortable with him playing higher on PnRs but also need to scheme him with pre-switching, and heavy shading to protect him.

Standout Trait:

  • Taking up space at the rim – With no defensive 3 seconds in the key, Edey can zone up and take away space to finish at the rim. He is an elite rebounder so keeping him there to close possessions is very useful. He is not often challenged vertically and if so, he can absorb contact well through his chest to block shots. The SMNT, under Nurse, experimented with a zone defense with Edey parked deep in the paint, taking advantage of the no defensive 3 seconds rule at the FIBA level. This is definitely a defensive scheme I hope current SMNT HC Jordi Fernandez brings out if Edey is on the roster in Paris.

Area of Improvement/Concern:

  • Defending in space – Edey does not have a coordinated backpedal and lateral change of direction. He is not able to switch his hips well or plant his feet to get up quickly in a pinch. Certain angles put Edey in a tough position to contest shots. Teams can take advantage of this and like to put him in space. He can be slow to get up the floor in transition and playing against teams with pace can play him off the floor. 
Projection/SMNT Team Fit: “Summer Core” Rotation Big

Edey currently projects to be a main rotation big for the “Summer Core” team (Olympic & World Cup teams) moving forward. Team Canada lacks true size at the 5 and as a result they’ve struggled closing defensive possessions. With Edey’s rebounding and ability to hold positioning at the rim, he’ll likely be a main option for the team. Like college, the FIBA court is smaller and there is no defensive 3 seconds in the key, increasing the defensive margin of error for Edey and giving him a more realistic pathway to consistent minutes. Defensively, he can take up a lot of space at the rim using his massive reach and wingspan. One potential concern with Edey on the floor (and occupying the low post) is taking away driving space from Canada’s elite playmaking guards in SGA and Murray.

Tyrese Samuel Florida Gators

  • Class: Senior
  • Age: 24 (Mar 10th, 2000)
  • Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
  • Height: 6’10”

National Team Experience: Tyrese Samuel was a consistent member of Canada’s Junior Men’s Teams growing up, playing for the 2018 FIBA U18 Americas squad in St. Catharines that captured silver and the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup team that finished 8th. However, Samuel has yet to make an appearance for the Senior Team.

Notable Statistics (per cbbref):

23.6 USG%, 14.0 PPG (55.1 FT%, 70% EFG at the rim), 7.6 RPG (3.0 OREB), 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG


Current Role: Florida begins possessions with Samuel in high/low positions (showing at the elbow or waiting in the dunker spot). He can attack off the catch from the elbow or keep in hand-off situations, but his handle is limited. Samuel is at his best working as a slip screener in empty side screens or attacking the offensive glass on misses. In transition, he can fill lanes like a wing or provide typical rim/trail finishing in the middle of the floor.

Standout Traits:

  • Length and mobility as a slip/roll threat – Samuel has the mobility to beat defenders to the rim, rolling into a quick one-foot gather in space. His 7’4 wingspan gives him access higher passing lanes on lobs which makes him a very useful finisher on the move. 
  • Timing on crashing offensive glass – Samuel’s athleticism and timing make him very effective on the offensive glass. He can use his length to sneak in for tip-ins.

Areas of Improvement/Concerns:

  • Shooting struggles – Samuel is a poor shooter overall. Per synergy – he has a 27.8 EFG% on jump shots and is a 55.1% FT shooter. Mechanically, Samuel has a lot of movement on his rise path, shooting over his head with his elbow coming out significantly. He also doesn’t have good touch on push-shots in the mid-range. He is quite limited in providing spacing on the floor horizontally.   
  • Handle & decision-making – While Samuel is comfortable handling the ball in grab-and-go situations or initiating hand-offs, his handle is quite loose, and he is not the best decision-maker as a driver. He can sometimes be over-eager to finish at the rim attacking slower bigs off the dribble.

Current Role: The Gators usually have Samuel defend 4s, protecting the rim and playing in drop against PnRs. They also have him switch at times because they usually have Micah Handlogten as a primary rim protector to support. With Handlogten out for the rest of the season, it will be interesting to see what defensive role Samuel will be given.  

At 6’10 with a 7’4 wingspan, Samuel can provide some secondary rim protection with his length and vertical. He’s a patient defender, not overly reactive staying in front of his man. He has some switch ability defending guards – choosing to give space to the ball handler and maintain his length. Moves decently laterally against bigger wings but struggles to change directions efficiently.

Projection/Team Fit: “Winter Core” Rotation Big

Samuel currently projects as a two-way play finishing big for the “Winter Core” moving forward. He is someone who can provide some athletic finishing in transition or as a roll/slip threat in PnR. Aside from Kyle Alexander (and he’s a tweener between the two cores), nobody in the “Winter Core” brings the athletic finishing that Samuel thrives with. Defensively, he can provide some length protecting the rim. He lacks the physicality to play a true small ball 5, so he’ll have to be paired in line-ups with another big.

Ben Krikke – Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Class: Senior
  • Age: 22 (Mar 23rd, 2001)
  • Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
  • Height: 6’9″

National Team Experience: Like Tyrese Samuel, Ben Krikke has yet to make an appearance with the SMNT, though he did suit up for the Junior Men’s National Team at the 2017 FIBA U16 Americas and the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup (where he was 4th on the team in scoring at 9.9 PPG). OnPointScouting actually recently sat down with Krikke earlier this month for an interview, which you can find here.

Notable Statistics (per cbbref):

21.4 USG%, 13.5 PPG (19.4 PPG previous year at Valparaiso), 4.6 RPG, 1.3 APG


Current Role: Iowa uses Krikke as a triggerman at the elbow, where he can make passing decisions to off-ball shooting actions. He can flow into a hand-off or move the ball to the weak side to continue Iowa’s motion offense. He is at his best as a cutter or screener once he moves off the ball after the primary action.

Standout Trait:

  • Instinctive off-ball cutter and screener – Krikke has an awesome motor, constantly reading the floor and finding opportunities to make himself or his teammates. He is very good at shaping towards the ball and continuing to move off-ball and doesn’t wait for teammates to create a look for him. Per synergy, he is at 1.373 PPP on cuts. You can often see him involved in multiple screens in a single possession. He has great timing on following drives with a kill cut (aka 45 cuts) or slipping on a pin-down screen to the mid-range area.

Areas of Improvement/Concerns:

  • Finishing struggles – While Krikke is a decent finisher on the left side of the rim (lefty dominant hand) and has some crafty step-through footwork in the post, he struggles against size to finish. He has limited athleticism and is mostly a below-the-rim finisher. He can handle the ball decently but he’s not going to get past anyone off-the-dribble and must rely on timing and pivot game craft to create a look for himself.
  • Limited range – Krikke’s shot-making is limited to the mid-range (44.1%, 82nd percentile among frontcourt players per Hoop Explorer). He doesn’t provide much spacing as a shooting threat in the offense. Most of his shot attempts outside of the rim come from the short corner or relocating to the elbow for a quick shot.

Current Role: Krikke typically defends 4s for Iowa, where he can be put in low zone positions and make smart rotation decisions.

Standout Trait:

  • Team defensive feel – Krikke has a high feel as a team defender. He has good timing on doubles to the post to force a kick-out or pick-up and has a good understanding of where to position to maintain the shell of the defense.

Area of Improvement/Concern:

  • Undersized – While he is strong for his size, he is undersized defending in the post. He is also someone you can attack in space if he’s forced to close out. He is valued more for getting position and boxing out early rather than sending for secondary rim protection.
Projection/Team Fit: “Winter Core” Rotation Forward

Krikke currently projects to be a rotation forward for the “Winter Core” team moving forward. He should be able to provide some off-ball energy as a high-feel cutter and screener for the team. Do the “little things” to keep possessions moving on offense.

Fardaws Aimaq – California Golden Bears

  • Class: Senior
  • Age: 25 (Jan 6th, 1999)
  • Hometown: Richmond, BC
  • Height: 6’11”

National Team Experience: Fardaws Aimaq is the only player covered that has yet to play for either the Senior or Junior Men’s Teams. His high school recruitment was on the quieter side and he played out his freshman year at Mercer. It wasn’t until he transferred to Utah Valley where his play and stock began to rise substantially.

Notable Statistics (per cbbref):

25.8 USG%, 14.5 PPG (51.3 TS%, 65 FG% at the rim), 11 RPG (26.6 DRB%), 2.1 APG, 1.0 BPG


Current Role: California initiates its offense with Aimaq in actions typically starting on the perimeter. He is either receiving an entry pass at the top of the key or setting a highball screen, usually popping out to the 3 on the initial actions and flowing into an empty side hand-off PnR. 

Standout Trait:

  • Good skill base – Aimaq can handle the ball decently for his size, and he has good mechanics on his jump shot. He’s a capable hand-off initiator who can reverse into a “Zoom” action on the weak side. When creating a look for himself, he is most comfortable facing up from the mid-post, shooting over his defender via a step-back or pound dribble. 

Area of Improvements/Concern:

  • Finishing at the rim – He is a below-average finisher at the rim for his size and usage, struggling to finish through lower-body contact on his post moves.

Current Role: California has Aimaq play in deep drop in pick-n-roll, closer to the rim. At his size, 6’11 with a 7’3 wingspan and strong upper body frame, he can maintain position well for rebounds.

Standout Trait:

  • Strength – Aimaq has the upper body strength to wall off and absorb contact with his massive chest from a standstill in the post. This strength also allows him to maintain positioning when fighting for defensive rebounds. He is one of the top defensive rebounders in the country with 7.5 per game (26.6 DRB%)

Area of Improvement/Concern

  • Defending in space – He is not very flexible against counters, and he struggles laterally defending in space. Switching or turning his hips to recover on a drive is tough for him with his heavy frame.
Projection/Team Fit: “Winter Core” Bench Big

Fardaws Aimaq could be an interesting bench big option for Team Canada’s “Winter Core” moving forward. He has the size to be a deep-drop defensive option that can help raise a defensive rebounding floor for certain lineups. Improving his catch-and-shoot ability (30.2 3FG% on 1.7 3PA) by raising his volume and finding more consistency could be a path for him to be a useful combination of spacing and rebounding big option to the “Winter Core” team.