Starting Five: Kadre Gray, Tanor Ngom Put Together Statement Performances

Ngom, Tanor
Ryerson forward Tanor Ngom was highly efficient from the floor over the last week, shooting a combined 65.4% (17-of-26) across two wins for the Rams. (Source: The Eye Opener) (Header: Sportsnet)

SARNIA, Ontario — The stars were out this past week across the OUA.

With the Laurentian Voyageurs hitting the court this past week, all teams in the OUA have kicked off their 2018-19 regular season schedules. Thanks in large part to Kadre Gray, the reigning OUA Player of the Year, the Voyageurs opened up their season with a pair of home wins as they try to make up for lost time after ending last season on a five-game losing streak.

In Toronto, second-year forward Tanor Ngom continued to be highly efficient from the floor, shooting a combined 65.4% from the field while leading the Ryerson Rams to a pair of wins. Not to be outdone by their in-town rivals, the Toronto Varsity Blues picked up a pair of home wins thanks to the emergence of Evan Shadkami, a name that everyone in the OUA should get to know sooner rather than later.

In total, four teams remain undefeated through two weeks of the season, three of which reside in the East Division. With a ton of talent from top to bottom in the conference, the race for the OUA Championship is sure to be an exciting one as the season unfolds.

This week, five players stood out above the rest in terms of individual performances. Here is this week’s Starting Five from across the OUA.

Starting Five: Oct. 29 – Nov. 4, 2018

Kadre Gray – Laurentian Voyageurs

32 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, 3 steals in 98-76 win vs. Nipissing
48 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists in 101-81 win vs. Lakehead

Kadre Gray has had himself a stellar career through two seasons at Laurentian, and through two games this season, he may be even better in 2018-19. Last season, Gray took home both the OUA Player of the Year and U Sports Male Student-Athlete of the Year awards after averaging 24.4 points per game and helping lead Laurentian to a 16-7 record. This season, Gray wasted little time in making a statement, and he is playing at a clip that’s even higher than last year.

Laurentian opened the season this week with home games against the Nipissing Lakers and Lakehead Thunderwolves. Against the Lakers, his regular season debut, Gray recorded a triple-double to help the Voyageurs notch the 98-76 win. He went for 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists for the triple-double, and he racked up three steals for good measure. Then, against the Thunderwolves, Gray one-upped himself on the offensive end of the floor. In Laurentian’s 101-81 win, Gray went for 48 points, nine rebounds, and five assists to cap off his stellar opening week.

Over the two games, Gray averaged 40.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game while helping Laurentian start the season at 2-0.

Tanor Ngom – Ryerson Rams

17 points, 11 rebounds, 1 block in 96-59 win vs. Guelph
24 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 5 blocks in 102-56 win vs. Algoma

Tanor Ngom had quite the summer while gearing up for his second season with the Ryerson Rams. The forward was one of just 20 college basketball players invited to the Nike Basketball Academy where he put his talents on display for various NBA coaches, scouts, and personnel. Ngom was the first player from U Sports to be invited to the showcase. After posting 10 points in the Rams’ regular season debut against the Toronto Varsity Blues, Ngom erupted this past week to average a double-double across two wins for Ryerson.

Ryerson was at home for two games this week, hosting both the Guelph Gryphons and Algoma Thunderbirds. Against Guelph, Ngom recorded his first double-double of the year, posting 17 points and 11 rebounds to go with one blocked shot in the Rams’ 96-59 victory. Then, against Algoma, Ngom narrowly missed his second straight double-double, recording 24 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks while guiding Ryerson to the 102-56 win.

For the week, Ngom averaged 20.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game to help Ryerson improve to 3-0 on the season.

Ali Sow – Laurier Golden Hawks

15 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal in 80-77 loss at Carleton
30 points, 2 assists, 2 steals in 79-71 win at Ottawa

After being named the OUA Rookie of the Year last season, Laurier guard Ali Sow has picked up right where he left off to start the 2018-19 season. This past weekend, Sow and the Golden Hawks were up in Ottawa, ON for two games, one each against the top-ranked Carleton Ravens and the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Playing in the Nation’s Capitol is never an easy thing to do for any team in the OUA, but the Golden Hawks made sure that the basketball community was talking about them when all was said and done.

In their game against the Ravens, the Golden Hawks led by six after three-quarters, but were unable to hold onto the lead down the stretch. Sow went for 15 points and two rebounds, but Laurier came up on the wrong side of an 80-77 decision. The next night, Laurier found themselves in a similar situation. The Golden Hawks led by 10 points after three quarters, but this time they held on for the 79-71 win. Once again, Sow led the way offensively for the Golden Hawks, recording 30 points, two assists, and two steals in the victory.

For the week, Sow averaged 22.5 points, 1.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game while guiding Laurier to a 1-1 week.

Isaiah Traylor – Lakehead Thunderwolves

19 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal in 83-79 win at Nipissing
15 points, 1 rebound in 101-81 loss at Laurentian

Through four games, the Lakehead Thunderwolves have matched their win total from all of last season: two. The Thunderwolves went just 2-22 a season ago, but have started this season in a much better fashion, earning a split over their first two weekends of the year. Leading the way has been a pair of newcomers, as transfers Kevin Ndahiro and Isaiah Traylor have taken on starring roles with their new program. This week, Traylor was at the forefront as the Thunderwolves split their two road games, notching their second win of the year in the process.

Against the Nipissing Lakers, Traylor recorded a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds to help guide Lakehead to the 83-79 victory. Up next, Lakehead took on the high-powered offense of the Laurentian Voyageurs. Traylor went for 15 points on the night, but it wasn’t enough as the Voyageurs held down home court with a 101-81 victory. Traylor averaged 17.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game over the two contests.

Evan Shadkami – Toronto Varsity Blues

33 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal in 85-81 win vs. Algoma
22 points, 2 assists, 1 steal in 99-92 win vs. Guelph

Evan Shadkami had himself quite the week for the Toronto Varsity Blues, helping guide the team to a pair of close wins on their home floor to get them into the win column and improve their record to 2-1 on the year. Shadkami was named the Male Student-Athlete of the Week at the University of Toronto for his efforts on the hardwood, and he seems to be finding his groove on offense.

The Varsity Blues played host to both the Algoma Thunderbirds and Guelph Gryphons, and Toronto was looking for a bounce-back win after a blowout loss against Ryerson in their opener. Against Algoma, Shadkami went for 33 points, four rebounds and three assists to help guide the Varsity Blues to the 85-81 victory. Then, the next night, he went for 22 points and two steals in Toronto’s 99-92 victory over the Gryphons to complete the perfect 2-0 weekend.

For the week, Shadkami averaged 27.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.

– T. Bennett

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