3 Canadians To Look Out For In May
With May comes the slow rising of atmospheric temperatures, and that’s not just the sky warming up. Sporting codes are also given a new lease on life with their seasonal shifts, and sports fans at large have fresh events to set their sights on.
We all know which players are at the top of their respective games once they get there, and, in case of doubt, their lucrative endorsement deals are there to remind us… but we typically celebrate them at their peak: once the mercury has risen. It’s always far more interesting to get ahead of the game and watch the up-and-coming player – one who will ultimately go on to spruik luxury goods at their peak – on the ascent towards greatness.
This month, we’ve got our eyes on three athletes whose stars are rising; all from our home and native land. Meet Canada’s own world-class sports of tomorrow. With glowing hearts we see thee rise.
All caught up?
If you already caught Bodog’s top five Canadian sports stars to follow in April, then it’s no time to sit back and wait for the cologne billboards. Bodog has already announced the top three sports stars to follow in May, and you’ll want to get familiar with them before their next breakout moments explode onto the scene in the months to come.
Ayo Akinola – Major League Soccer
Ayomide Bamidele Akinola, or “Ayo” for short, has been a forward for Toronto FC since he first signed on in 2017.
His career from there has blossomed; he’s done Toronto proud, with 46 appearances and 14 goals, including nine goals within 15 appearances in 2020, which highlighted the young player as one of the top up-and-coming forwards in MLS for that year.
As others who have gone before him well know, playing on the pitch isn’t always fun and games at its core. Akinola discovered this the hard way by tearing his ACL in his first ever start with the Canadian team in July of 2021, putting him on the bench for nine months while he nursed his injury back to health.
The end of his contract with TFC rolled around at the end of 2021, and the nearly-recovered Akinola got a gift to remember when the club announced on his birthday on January 22 that they would keep him sporting the red jersey until 2024, with the option of renewing in 2025.
His first game back in action after the injury was in a match against FC Cincinnati in May this year, where Akinola entered the game to a ballistic crowd of cheers in the 74th minute, welcoming the newly recovered striker back to the pitch.
With nearly a year off to rest and such a strong start to his restored position on the field, you can be sure that this young and talented striker will do all that he can to reclaim his rising star reputation and make up for lost time in the league, and you won’t want to miss it.
Bennedict Mathurin – NCAA basketballer
The Arizona Wildcats of the NCAA have one dynamite young player on their team – the one and only Bennedict Mathurin.
Mathurin, originally from Montreal, committed to playing for the Wildcats in June of 2020, which he chose over a spot with Baylor. Thanks to his finesse as a shooting guard and small forward, the North Pole Hoops deemed Mathurin the best Canadian prospect in his class.
The honours were later confirmed when he claimed the MVP award of the Pac-12 Tournament. The award came after he hit the double digits in 30 of 31 games for Arizona, which led his team to a 33-4 record and the No. 1 seed in the NCAA regular-season and conference tournament championships.
Oh, and did we mention he’s only 19?
Mathurin may be greener than a bean sprout, but his performance leading up to the career-shifting title has been as measured and polished as the hard maple planks he plays on. And nothing that shiny evades the attention from the NBA. Starting out strong as a freshman, it wasn’t until he was under the wing of coach Tommy Lloyd as a sophomore that the Canadian emerged as a breakout star.
He had an average of 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, immediately turning heads as the youngster with the “it” factor that’s ripe for the NBA.
So it’s no surprise that in April this year he declared for the 2022 NBA Draft, and the projections are looking good.
The ESPN 100 puts Mathurin as the No. 11 prospect for their mock draft projections; Kyle Boone’s NBA Draft Big Board places him at No. 10 – and yet other projections place him as the possible No. 5 seed.
Wherever he ends up, you can be sure this Montreal native will be lighting up the court with his signature attacks off the dribble and pristine jump shots that make him stand out as an NBA-calibre player.
Pro golfer and Canadian Corey Conners is currently in action at the USPGA Open, and at the Bodog sportsbook, we’ve got our eyes on this 30-year old as he competes to clinch a second PGA tour victory.
His first and only PGA Tour victory came in 2019 at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. It may be the only professional golf win to his name, but Conners, who hails from Listowel, is certainly not lacking in the credentials department, as we saw from his amateur career that led him here.
In the 2014 U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club, Conners barely missed the first place mark just behind Gunn Yang, he won the 2012 Mid-America Conference Championship at Kent State, and he held the Jones Cup for Canada in the World Amateur Team Championship in 2014.
With a growing reputation as “one hell of a ball striker”, as fellow PGA golfer and WGC-Dell Match opponent Kevin Kisner aptly put it, Conners managed to finish T6 at the current Masters Tournament, marking his third consecutive top-10 at the event.
For his other standings in the event, Conners finished at T60 for the Wells Fargo Championship, T12 for RBC Heritage just before it, and T11 for the Arnold Palmer Invitational back in March.
The PGA Tour is still in full swing, and we’re expecting to see Conners’ striking skills pay off as he climbs the golfing ranks.
The buds of May are ready to burst out and thrive, and so too are the top emerging Canadian sport talents. The sportsbook at Bodog Casino is always up-to-date for every contest so, before the twigs become trees, seize the opportunity to take a glimpse into the future and pick a champion – because Bodog’s bet slips are open right now.
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