When Jordan Bachynski changed his Twitter handle to @BLOCKshynski at the end of March, it fit like his size 14 basketball shoes. He didn’t come up with the nickname himself. The 7’2″ Bachynski just finished up his fourth season playing basketball for the Arizona State University Sun Devils and in his final year averaged an astounding four blocks a game.
“[BLOCKshynski] was one of the ASU fans,” said Bachynski. “It was a hashtag they had been using throughout the year, and I felt it fit perfectly.”
Bachynski isn’t from Arizona originally. He’s actually from a much colder part of the world – Calgary. Growing up, he always dreamed of playing in March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament. To fulfill that dream, he had to play basketball elsewhere.
“I kind of had the attitude that if you want play to hockey you come to Canada. If you want to play basketball, or pretty much any other sport, you go to the States,” he said. “So, I knew I had to come south of the border.”
In 2010, Bachynski started his career with the Sun Devils. His first three seasons, the team didn’t make it into the tournament. But this year they did. Arizona State played the Texas Longhorns in the second round, and Bachynski came up big. He had one of his best offensive games all season, scoring 25 points while pulling down seven rebounds. It wasn’t enough. His team lost by two points, but it was still a dream come true.
“It was amazing,” said Bachynski.”The atmosphere, the tradition that comes with March Madness … I wish it would have been a lot longer, but hey, what can you do?”
In that game, and throughout the season, he could feel the support from his homeland. He says he has a lot of Canadian followers on Twitter and after every game he would get tweets saying thing like “Calgary’s finest.”
Just because he had to go south to play ball, doesn’t mean that basketball is going away from Canada. He thinks it’s actually doing the opposite.
Bachynski wasn’t the only Canadian playing in the NCAA tournament. This year there was a total of 27 Canadians participating in March Madness.
“Canadians are definitely stepping their game up when it comes to producing great basketball players, so I think because of that, basketball is gaining traction.”
Canada had the first-overall NBA draft pick last year in Anthony Bennett, who was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Canada could have it again this year with Andrew Wiggins. There are already multiple Canadians playing in the pros, with players like Kelly Olynyk and Tristan Thompson already making an impact in the NBA. Other talented Canadians who could be drafted this year include Tyler Ennis, Nik Stauskis, and, as Bachynski is hoping, himself.
“That’s my goal,” said Bachynski. “I recently signed with an agent, and I’m going to do everything I can to make it in the NBA and hopefully be the first Calgarian to ever be in the NBA.”
He hopes that NBA general managers will look at his defensive ability when it’s their turn to pick in the draft. He has seen the game getting away from teams using the traditional big men, but still thinks it’s important to have that rim protection.
“When guys are driving to the hole or when a guy gets beat on the pick and roll or even on a back door cut… I might not necessarily get the blocked shot, but even if I can change the shot just a little bit, I think that’s going to be the biggest thing I can bring.”
While defense has always been the best facet of his game, he has been making improvements to his offense as well. This year he averaged 11.5 points per game and 8.2 rebounds a game to go along with his ability to block shots.
For now, Bachynski will have to wait until June 26 to find out if he will be on an NBA roster for the upcoming season. If he could pick a team, he would want to play for the Utah Jazz, the Miami Heat, or the Phoenix Suns. He has lived in both Miami and Arizona, and has family in Utah.
But that’s not how the draft works, so he will be happy with any team that wants him.
“I just want to work hard, and make a team,” said Bachynski. “Being able to get paid to play the game I love would be a dream come true.”
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