Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Players to watch in the NCAA Tournament. ...The Centers

Keith Benson - Oakland 6'11" 230 Senior - Benson plays in the Summit League which is far from a major conference but his career efficiency rating of .713 is too good to be ignored. Benson is lanky and right handed. …He was again named the Summit Player of the Year - just as he was in 2009-10. Benson was also the Defensive Player of the Year this season. ...Really skilled as a shot blocker, and a solid protector of the rim. He was second in the NCAA this season in blocked shots per game at 3.8. …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. ...He moves his feet well and has enough quickness to be an NBA Center. ...He is a career 68% free throw shooter. 

John Henson - North Carolina 6'10" 210 Sophomore - Henson is a super long shot blocker and offensive rebounding force that struggles with his shooting. He is rail thin but he changes opponent's shots with his long reach, and quick reactions. He has 103 blocked shots this season in less than 900 minutes! His field goal percentage is .503 - which is more of a reflection of the number of dunks and tip-ins he gets due to his length than due to his shooting skill (or lack thereof). …He is at .454 for his career at the free throw line which is horrible. ...The biggest question with Henson I see going forward is will his thin frame be able to withstand the rigors of the NBA? He looks too thin. I am already sold on his ability to impact games in the paint with his combo of reach and bounce. 

Josh Smith - UCLA 6'10" 305 Freshman - Smith is a problem in the low post. He has good hands and nimble feet. …He is out of shape and overweight but he can impact a game by scoring in the low post and rebounding. ...Needs to do a better a job of staying out of foul trouble and he really needs to improve as a passer. He has more than two turnovers for every assist. ...Just a 62% free throw shooter. ...McDonald's All-American. His Kentwood High team won the 2010 Washington State Championship during his Senior season. 

Tyler Zeller - North Carolina 7'0" 245 Junior - Zeller can run and finish well for a seven footer. He hustles. …Owns a quick release on his shot and he has touch. He uses both hands well in the low post. He is more effective with hook shots going over the top of the defense than he is trying to go at someone. ...He competes. He takes charges. ...Hits offensive glass and will score on tip-ins. ...He needs to be a better passer out of the low post. His assist-to-turnover ratio is horrid (4 to's for every 1 assist. ugh.) ...He needs to get stronger - especially in his lower body - as he will have difficulty holding his ground to get his low post game off at the next level. 

JaJuan Johnson - Purdue 6'10" 221 Senior - (Johnson should probably be listed as a Power Forward but there is such a lack of Center candidates... I threw him in this pool.) JaJuan Johnson became a dependable scorer in face up situations as he matured at Purdue. Now - he has an advanced face-up game for a big man with length. He averaged 20.5 points per game this season. ...He is a quick jumper. ...Has a skinny frame that needs to beef up. …He has a fairly consistent jump hook. He finishes around the rim. …Defensively - he has quick reactions - and he is a good shot blocker. ...Right handed. ...Makes his free throws at 81%. ...His length allows him to make plays others simply cannot make. …Hits the offensive glass. …Gathers himself under control. 

Bernard James has an NBA body.
Bernard James - Florida St. 6'10" 240 Junior - James is a former Air Force soldier that at age 26 has made an impact defensively for Florida State. He is a strong presence inside as a shot blocker with an NBA body. ...He doesn't take many bad shots - and as a result - he is shooting 65% from the field. ...James completed a six-year term in the US Air Force (2003-08) and was stationed in Iraq and Qatar in the Middle East during his deployment. 

Josh Harrellson - Kentucky 6'10" 275 Senior - Harrellson has positively impacted Kentucky's team with his willingness and ability to run the floor. He gets seven points and nine boards per game while shooting a nice 58% FG. ...He takes good care of the ball and blocks his share of shots by being an alert help defender. 

Nikola Vucevic - USC 6'10" 260 Junior  - Vucevic has lots of potential due to a high skill level. He is a right handed BIG that grew up around basketball - with both of parents being professional players in Europe. He can score on the low block with his back to the basket. He has a variety of moves. His face-up game is also nice - stretching all the way to the three point line. He has shown the skill to make passes out of a double team but at the end of the day - he has significacntly more turnovers than assists for his USC career. Vucevic is not as efficiecnt as he could be due to a habit of drifting on the periemeter as opposed to using his big frame down low. 

Adreian Payne - Michigan State 6'10" 225 Freshman - Payne only plays nine minutes per game but he has shot blocking ability that shows up "on the radar". He might be worth watching as he develops. 

Others: Mouphtaou Yarou - Villanova. Yancy Gates - Cincinnati. Gary McGhee - Pittsburgh. Matthew Bryan-Amaning - Washington. Robert Sacre - Gonzaga. Aziz N'Diaye - Washington. Festus Ezeli - Vanderbilt.

See our Power Forwards list...
See our Small Forwards list...
See our Shooting Guards list...
See our Point Guards list...

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