Female players shooting stars

JASON PAUL -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

It's not just the boys landing NCAA basketball scholarships. The number of Canadian women playing in the U.S. college system has grown larger than the men. There were 79 male players from Canada on Division 1 scholarships this season, according to the NCAA. By comparison, there were 106 Canadian females playing in the U.S.

"The guys' programs in the U.S. seem to fall in love with athletes whereas with the girls they're just looking for good basketball players, especially at mid-major schools, maybe that's why more girls go down (on scholarships)," said Rich Wesolowski, who runs Canada Drive, a highly successful summer girls' basketball program and also is head coach at St. Mary's high school in Hamilton. "When we first started our high school tournament six or seven years ago, we'd get maybe one or two coaches coming out, now it's more like 30 university coaches."

There were 65 players from Ontario on a Division 1 scholarship -- the most successful of which was 5-foot-10 guard Shona Thorburn of Hamilton, one of the key players on the Utah Utes.

Thorburn scored 15 points, second highest on the Utes roster behind fellow Canadian Kim Smith of Mission, B.C. (who earned an all-American honourable mention by the Associated Press).

Thorburn and Smith, both of whom are on the Canadian national team, shared Mountain West Conference player-of-the-year honours.

Kingston's Katie Donovan, who finished her high school career in Oakville, led Illinois State in scoring (13.6). She also is on the national team.

Ashleigh Cuncic of Carlisle (9.8 points) had a solid season at Vermont after transferring from the University of Western Ontario.

Hamilton guard Jessie Lamparski (5.8 points, 6.6 assists) and Midhurst's Megan Lyte (11.4 points, 7.2 rebounds) were major players at Canisius.

Stoney Creek's Rachael Vanderwal (11.3 points, 37.6 minutes) barely left the floor for Boston University.

Sault Ste. Marie's Jen Perugini of Youngstown State was the only Ontario player to average a double-double and was 10th overall in the NCAA in rebounding (10.7).

This year's graduating high school class in Ontario isn't as strong as year's past, but the two biggest players to keep any eye on next NCAA season are Richmond Hill centre Stephany Skrba (Michigan) and Hamilton guard Tamika Nurse (Oregon).


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