One of Newcastle’s most talked about sporting exports bids to make history tonight as Tosan Evbuomwan leads his Princeton Tigers into Sweet Sixteen action.
The talk of this year’s NCAA basketball tournament — known as March Madness — has juggled practice with national television interviews all week.
But the time for talking is over as Geordie Evbuomwan sets his sights on taking the Tigers even deeper into the post-season party.
Millions of hoops fans around the world will be tuning in to catch what neutrals hope will be another huge upset as 15th ranked Princeton takes on sixth seeds Creighton.
And Evbuomwan’s former Newcastle Eagles Academy team mate Sam Mamuini expects more of the same from this year’s arch disruptors.
“I expect the offence to flow through Tosan again and I expect Princeton will put up another great fight,” said the 6ft Eagles benchman.
“I used to play against Tosan when we were juniors and he was always an athletic guy but his progress has been incredible.
“I’m so proud of what he’s achieved and I just want to wish him all of the best this weekend.”
Princeton dumped out second seed Arizona and seventh-ranked Missouri to match the Tigers’ best post-season run for more than half a century.
And they go head-to-head with Creighton at 1am UK time tonight after capturing the imagination of the nation Stateside.
Former Sport Newcastle Rising Star Evbuomwan was booked for live TV slots on CNN and USA Today this week with global media organisations desperate for a piece of the Princeton action.
And for the second season running the two-time Ivy League MVP has been attracting NBA scouts and representatives from Europe’s top clubs as he closes out his senior year in style.
“It’s fantastic to see Tosan flying the flag for Newcastle sport and Eagles basketball,” said Roger Tames, chair, Sport Newcastle.
“We recognised him as one for the future in 2019 and in the last four years he’s exceeded expectations.
“Sport Newcastle is a grassroots organisation that seeks to support local athletes, coaches and clubs and that’s where our focus remains.
“To see that support manifest itself in a success story like Tosan’s makes all of our work worthwhile.
“We have worked alongside Newcastle Eagles, their Academy and the Community Foundation for many years now and this is also a time to celebrate the unique pathway offered to local basketball players in this area.”
Number 15 seed Princeton (23-8) followed up a first-round win over Pac-12 tournament champions Arizona by overwhelming seventh-ranked Missouri (25-10), of the Southeastern Conference, last weekend.
A comfortable 78-63 victory defied the odds and saw the Tigers reach a regional semi-final for the first time in 56 years.
Princeton is only the second Ivy League school to make the Sweet 16 in the past 43 tournaments, joining Cornell in 2010.
No team from the academically prestigious league that doesn’t give athletic scholarships has gone further since Penn made the Final Four in 1979.
Evbuomwan won a First Team All-Ivy selection for the second season on the bounce following an outstanding senior year with Princeton.
He followed that up with the Ivy League Tournament’s top prize after the Tigers punched their ticket for March Madness with a 74-65 win against fierce rivals Yale.
“Everyone involved with the Eagles’ organisation is extremely proud of Tosan,” said Ian MacLeod, Development Manager, Newcastle Eagles.
“He came here as a 14-year-old with a passion for basketball and an excellent work ethic. It’s fantastic to see how far he’s come.”
BT Sport is covering the top ties from this year’s March Madness and the ESPN App shows every game live and on demand. Monthly subscriptions are £9.99.