Thursday, March 21, 2013

Power Forwards to watch in the 2013 NCAA Tournament

Here is a glance at 15 power-forwards we will be watching closely from a NBA scouting perspective in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. 


Mr. Efficiency, DeQuan Hicks. 
DeQuan Hicks - Northwestern St. Junior. 6'7" 230. ...I did a double take when I computed his efficiency rating. Surely I made a typo and punched in the wrong numbers. I re-checked. No mistake. Hicks owns a .808 efficiency rating - which is "through the roof" in per minute production. As a matter of fact, Hicks' points per minute rate ranks 'tops in the tournament' in my database. Hicks has scored nearly 400 points in 562 minutes. He ranks tenth in the nation in field goal percentage at 58%. While the sample size is relatively small, the overall production for a guy that only plays 20 minutes a game is phenomenal. He should, at a minimum, be on your radar. You can see him in some highlights here. He's number 32 in blue. 

Anthony Bennett - UNLV. Freshman. 6'8" 240. ...Bennett was recently named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year. He has a chance to be the overall number one pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He averages 16 points and eight rebounds per game. Bennett is adept inside the paint or on the perimeter. He is very fluid on the floor - covering ground quickly for such a big and powerful player. He scores easily, at a high rate per-minute. He shoots 53% FG, and 70% FT. He steps out to the three point line and hits 37% of those attempts (36 of 95 this season). He does look a bit "soft" from a conditioning standpoint. 

Jack Cooley - Notre Dame. Senior. 6'9" 248. ...A first-team All Big East selection, Cooley is among the best defensive rebounders in college basketball. He averaged double figures in points and rebounds in the 2012-13 Big East season. He is BIG and he is smart. He shoots 65% FG for his career due to his size, and the way he positions himself around the hoop. He could certainly be a better foul shooter (just 65% FT - career), and he has more turnovers than assists, but Cooley doesn't take any plays off, and he rarely, if ever, takes a bad shot. 

DaVante Gardner - Marquette. Junior. 6'8" 290. ...Gardner is a load to handle in the low-post. He is nimble and he has a soft touch for such a BIG dude. He was the Big East Sixth Man of the Year. Gardner shoots an impressive 79% FT - career. Defensively - he eats space but he is not a shot blocker. He averaged 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds this season, playing just 21.3 minutes per game. 


Kazemi wrecks the rim
Arsalan Kazemi - Oregon. Senior. 6'8" 226. ...Kazemi has a motor that seemingly churns twice as fast as his opponents. Non-stop energy is his calling card. The Iranian National Team member started his college career at Rice but has now landed at Oregon. He is a terrific rebounder and defender that was named to the Pac-12 All Defensive Team. For his NCAA career - he shoots 55% FG. 

Trevor Mbakwe - Minnesota. Senior. 6'8" 245. ...Mbakwe has battled back from a torn ACL in his right knee (11/27/2011) to impact the paint for Minnesota. He led the Big Ten in both total rebounds, and offensive rebounds per game. He owns a career field goal percentage of 57%. He is powerful and athletic. ...He has more turnovers than assists and his free throw percentage is only 62%. 

Kyle Anderson - UCLA. Freshman. 6'9" 235. ...You could call Kyle Anderson a small forward or even a guard. The versatile Bruin is really just a good basketball player that I project to wind up as a power forward in the Lamar Odom mode. Anderson played point guard in high school where his team lost only once in two seasons. He looks like he's going in slow motion but he is undeniably effective. He averages 9.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He has a 7'2" wingspan! I'd call him a small forward if he were a better three-point shooter (only 21% 3-pt.). 

Laurence Bowers - Missouri. Senior. 6'8" 227. ...Bowers returned to action this season after sitting out all of 2011-12 due to a torn ACL in his left knee. He came back as a better long range shooter. Bowers is now routinely stretching defenses out to the college three point line where he hit 39% of his long-ball attempts. He averages 14 points per game. Bowers has an outside chance to play some small forward too at the next level. His decision making and ball-handling are not quite at SF level yet in my opinion. 

Richard Howell - N.C. State. Senior. 6'8" 257. ...One of the reasons that N.C. State has been generally successful is the dependable play of Richard Howell. He improved his scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals averages with each season in the NCAA. This season, Howell scored 12.7 points per game while grabbing 10.7 rebounds per outing. He was named second team All-ACC (coaches). 


McGary eats boards
Mitch McGary - Michigan. Freshman. 6'10" 263. ...McGary has legitimate NBA size and rebounding ability. He impacts Michigan games the moment he checks in. McGary averages 5.5 boards per game in just 17.7 minutes per contest. He shoots 57% FG. ...Read this about McGary's open attitude about living with A.D.H.D. 

Perry Ellis - Kansas. Freshman. 6'8" 225. ...He is coming off a Big 12 Tournament where he averaged 14.3 points per game. Ellis provides a spark off the Jayhawks bench. 

Branden Dawson - Michigan St. Sophomore. 6'6" 220. ...Dawson returned from a torn ACL (March 2012) to show what a capable power player he can be. He rebounds the ball extremely well and he seems to understand his limitations. The result is 56% FG accuracy. Defensively, he can guard virtually any position on the floor. Dawson has already publicly stated he plans to return for his junior season. 

Jake Cohen - Davidson. Senior. 6'10" 235. ...One of the best shooting big men in the tournament is Jake Cohen. He has worked to make himself a legitimate "stretch-four" prospect. He improved his three point shooting percentage with each of his four seasons. This season he shot 50% FG, 38% 3-pt, and 82% FT. He averages 14.8 points per game. 

Christian Watford - Indiana. Senior. 6'9" 232. ...Watford has turned into a deadly three point shooter (49% 3-pt). He is a bit of a "tweener" between a small forward and a power forward but he can REALLY shoot the ball. His 82% FT reflects his great touch. 

Mike Moser - UNLV. Junior. 6'8" 230. ...Moser may not be 100 percent yet after missing games due to a dislocated elbow suffered in December 2012. Moser has some small forward skills but he isn't dependable enough of a perimeter shooter to be called an effective wing player. At the PF, Moser can rebound at a high enough rate and provide some offense to boot. 

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