Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Centers! 65 Players to Watch in the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

There is a real chance for a few select college players at the Center position to impact the NBA in the coming years. The NBA landscape is pretty average beyond the top 25 players at this important position. ...Centers, in our book, should be shot blockers, the last line of defense. To be an efficient Center - you must also score, shoot a high field goal percentage, and rebound well. ...Let's look at our list of Centers to keep an eye on in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

1. DeMarcus Cousins - Kentucky 6'11" 260 Frosh. He is the easily the most efficient player in college hoops with a gaudy .870 EFR. He gets technical fouls for talking back to referees. He is a big kid with an NBA body. He has a back-to-the-basket post game and he possesses quick hands. He WILL score anywhere close to the hoop. He has excellent footwork and he uses his massive body to put defenders in bad positions. 62% free throw shooter. …Foul prone and throws away two turnovers for every one assist.

2. Greg Monroe - Georgetown 6'11" 250 Soph. ... Greg Monroe is the best passing big man in college basketball. He is easily one of my favorite prospects. He runs and finishes. He scores in the low -post. He slices up defenses with his ability to pass - either facing or with his back to the basket. …He is 6'10" but he moves like he is 6'7". ...Left-handed. He can guard Small Forwards but his offensive game is better suited for the FOUR or FIVE positions. He can dribble reasonably well but his face-up perimeter shooting is not like that of a NBA SF. He shoots 68% from the line which really needs to be better. ...He is well liked by his teammates. ...There is lots to admire about this former McDonald's All-America big man with finesse.

3. Dexter Pittman - Texas - 6'10" 298. SR. ... Although he had a rough 2009-10 season, Pittman is a college hoops success story. He lost 80 lbs. to get into playing shape and now he is scratching the surface of what is possible for his game. He can score with his back to the basket and he eats up space for rebounds. He has good hands and he is nimble and enthusiastic. ...In the 2009 Big 12 Tournament - Pittman averaged more than 20 points and 10 boards a game. ....Still has a ton of work to do as he turns it over three-plus times for every assist. ...Only a 61% FT shooter. ...A bit of a 'happy-go-lucky' kid which hurts his game because he really needs to demand more touches in the paint. ...As a freshman he weighed 366 lbs. …Pittman's Dad Johnny is a 7-footer who played at Oklahoma State from 1989 to 1991.

4. Cole Aldrich - Kansas - 6'11" 250. Jr. ...Cole Aldrich is an efficient Center and defensive force. Most likely he is not going to be a scorer in the NBA. I think he will be an upgraded version of a what Joel Pryzbilla brings; which is shot blocking, rebounding, and just enough offense to keep himself in the rotation. He is a two-time winner of the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award (2008-09, 2009-10). He is tough for any offensive player to score on in the paint. ...Aldrich had a strong junior season last year when he averaged 14.6 points, joining Oklahoma's Blake Griffin as the only two players in the conference to average a double-double. ...Aldrich is the rare BIG that can shoot well although his shot is awkward looking - well over his head. He hits 73% from the free throw line - and is capable of hitting the face up 17' shot. ...Does not shy from contact. ...He is a smart kid that was named the 2009-10 Academic All American of the Year. ...Former McDonald's All-American.

5. Keith Benson - Oakland 6'11" 225 Jr. ...Benson plays in the Summit League which is far from a major conference but his EFR of .700 is too good to be ignored. Benson is lanky and right handed. …He was the Summit Player of the Year for 2009-10. He led the league in blocks (116), and rebounds (358). …He has quick hands and a good bounce in his jumping ability. He understands his role and plays near the rim. ...Good on the offensive glass. ...Really skilled as a shot blocker, and a solid protector of the rim. ...He moves his feet well and has enough quickness to be an NBA Center. ...He is a career 70% free throw shooter. ...Invited as 1-of-14 collegiate players (5 mid-major players) to Amar'e Stoudemire Skills Academy in summer 2009. Check out a nice Detroit News feature on Benson here.

6. Samardo Samuels - Louisville 6'9" 260 Soph. ... Samuels is an undersized Center with good hands. …He has a nice touch around the hoop, and his half-hook shot is hard to stop. ...Large and wide. He carves out space and finishes with authority. Samuels opened eyes when he scored a career-high 36 points against Notre Dame, the most for a U of L player in eight years -- since Reece Gaines scored 37 against Saint Louis in 2002. …He can get into trouble with the dribble. …Not a high-energy guy. Often stoic. ...In high school: Averaged 24.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots leading St. Benedict Prep to a 24-1 record and the No. 2 ranking in the USA Today Super 25 high school basketball rankings.

7. A.J. Ogilvy - Vanderbilt 6'11" 250 Jr. ... Ogilvy is the rare BIG that has a soft touch on his shot. For his career at Vandy, the big Australian shoots 55% FG, and 74% FT. ...He is not a speed demon but ala Brad Miller he somehow takes BIGS off the dribble. ...Right handed, and knows how to play. He does not force his game at all. ...Defensively - he will sacrifice his body and take a charge. …Can be a bit too passive. ...Needs to be more aggressive. Ogilvy is a bit of an enigma in the sense that you are not sure which A.J. will show up. When he is "on" - he can remind you of Andrew Bogut type talent. ...When he is not super aggressive - he can under whelm.

8. Solomon Alabi - Florida St. 7'1" 241. Soph. ... ...A shot blocking big man with loads of potential due to his combo of athleticism and soft touch. …Long and athletic - if he fully develops as a player - he could be special. He is shooting 54% FG and 75% FT for his two years at Florida State. …At this stage - he is mostly a shot blocker and defensive presence. This season he averaged only 12 points and six rebounds per contest. He does have a go-to right handed hook shot. ...Quick jumper. …Could be a better rebounder. ...Named to 3rd team All-ACC in 2009-10, while making the league's All-Defensive team. ...Alabi red-shirted as a freshman. ...Played in only 10 games in his first year as a Seminole before a leg injury shortened his season.

9. Brian Zoubek - Duke 7'1" 280. SR. ... It would be hard to find a better teammate BIG than Brian Zoubek. He sets a wicked screen. He takes charges. He rarely tries to do anything outside of his skill-set. He only plays 18 minutes per game but he scores five points and grabs seven boards during that span. ...He is a legit 7'1" 280, and he CAN impact a college contest with his mere presence. ...Shoots 59%FG for his career at Duke. In 2006 as a high school SR he was on the Jordan All-America team, and was named 2006 New Jersey Player of the Year.

10. Ray Turner - Texas A&M 6'8" 220 Frosh ... A big reason why Texas A&M should be taken seriously is freshman Ray Turner. ...Turner is only 6'8" but his long arms, hyper-athletic speed (for his size) and chiseled body make him an NBA prospect. …Turner is a monster on the offensive glass, hitting the boards for crowd pleasing put back dunks. ...He may ultimately be more of a PF. He has only played 169 minutes this season. ...Became eligible in December ...From Houston, TX. ...Recruited by Oklahoma State, Memphis, Missouri, Marquette, Baylor, Nebraska and New Mexico.

11. Omar Samhan - St. Mary's 6'11" 265 SR. ... Omar Samhan makes me shake my head. He shouldn't be as effective as he is. He is a shining example of how hard work can make you an effective player. Samhan led the West Coast Conference in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. …He does not run that well. He looks awkward. But at the end of a game - Samhan has his average of 21 points. ...He does not "show and recover" well - which will most likely prevent him from being an NBA Center. ...By all accounts - Samhan is a GREAT kid. ...Known as a hard worker that lost weight and changed his body by working out in the summer.

12. Jordan Eglseder - Northern Iowa. 7'1" 290. SR. ... Eglseder is an effective college Center but I doubt he will ever sniff the NBA. ...He simply is too slow despite being able to score near the hoop. ...Huge kid from Bellevue, Iowa averaged ten points, six rebounds, and one block per game in just 20 minutes per contest this season at Northern Iowa. Career numbers are 55% FG, 73% FT. …Good rebounder, and decent shot blocker. Lefty. ...Was suspended for three games after being arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

13. Derrick Caracter - UTEP 6'9" 260 Jr. ... Caracter averaged 14 points and eight rebounds this season at UTEP. ...Wide shoulders and strong base make Caracter a tough cover around the basket. He has had some off-court trouble and he transferred from Louisville to UTEP. He did not play at all in 2008-09. …He can use both hands around the basket. Slightly overweight. ...Passes well out of double-team - which he draws in the low post. ...He sees the floor well as a hi-post passer. ...Career: 56% FG, 63% FT.

Two more worth watching: JaJuan Johnson - Purdue, Arinze Onuaku - Syracuse

See the rest of the 65 players to watch: Point Guards / Shooting Guards / Small Forwards / Power Forwards

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