Men's Basketball

Former teammates Ennis, Pierre prepare for NCAA Tournament matchup

Yuki Mizuma | Staff Photographer

Tyler Ennis played with Dayton guard Dyshawn Pierre for one season on CIA Bounce and one summer for the Canadian national team.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Up near the Ennis’ home country, there’s a reunion of sorts taking place.

Tyler Ennis and his brother Dylan are both playing at First Niagara Center for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament and on Saturday, when No. 3-seed Syracuse squares off against No. 11-seed Dayton, Ennis will take the floor against Dyshawn Pierre, a fellow Canadian and former CIA Bounce teammate.

“It’s a great opportunity. It’s a little bit different playing against guys you know,” Ennis said. “It just shows Canada’s really on the rise.”

Ennis and Pierre overlapped for one year with CIA Bounce and played together for one summer with the Canadian national team Cadets.

With CIA Bounce, Pierre was playing with the U17 team and Ennis, then a 16-year-old, played up a year.

“With his talent he was able to play with us,” Pierre said. “His talent spoke, for sure. We were all about winning, too, and we needed him at times when the older guys weren’t playing well. I think he started over some of the guys.”

The two live about 45 minutes apart in Canada, Pierre said, and both live about three hours from Buffalo. Pierre expects to see a largely pro-Orange crowd Saturday, but upstate New York is close enough to Whitby, Ontario, that there will be a contingent of friends and family supporting him.

The same is in play for Ennis. His entire family, including Dylan, is in Buffalo to support both SU and Villanova, but it’s also a chance to take in a showcase of good Canadian players.

“We have so many players in the Tournament still and playing key players,” Ennis said. “It just shows we have talent.”

Ennis has faced off against a slew of Canadian opponents throughout the season — the Orange traveled to Canada for four preseason games during the summer and faced an Olivier Hanlan-led Boston College team twice — but Pierre is one of the few guys he has experience playing with.

He hasn’t had much of a chance to see Pierre during this weekend, but when both teams played in the EA Sports Maui Invitational they got to watch some basketball together.

Now, while other Canadian stars like Melvin Ejim and Andrew Wiggins play crucial roles elsewhere, Ennis and Pierre collide on the big stage in Buffalo, where they sing the Canadian National Anthem before games, too.

Said Ennis: “It goes to show how far Canada has come to have players who are impact players on this level.”

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