Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Tyler Hansbrough’

ACC Preview: #1 North Carolina

Posted by Tommy on November 10, 2008

Coach- Roy Williams (6th season)

PG- Ty Lawson (JR): Lawson, commonly known as the Roadrunner, is the motor that makes this North Carolina team go. Roy Williams loves to have his guards break out after a defensive rebound in order to get a quick numbers advantage on the other end, and the speedy Lawson is the perfect guard to execute this strategy. He’s a great decision maker in the open floor, he can shoot from beyond the arc and is really good at finding the slightest holes in opposing defenses. As an underclassman for the Tar Heels, Lawson shot above 50% and had an assist to turnover ratio around 2.5. Not only does he excel with the ball in his hand, but he generates tons of steals with his constant pressure on the defensive end. North Carolina is a completely different team with Lawson at 100% and if he stays healthy all season it’ll be hard to pick against UNC as the national champion.

SG- Wayne Ellington (JR): Smooth. The first word that comes to my head when I watch Ellington. I know ACC basketball fans are probably tired of hearing Dick Vitale rave about how “smooth” Ellington’s game is, but there’s no denying it. He isn’t as quick as Lawson or as athletic as Danny Green, but he has great technique and is deceptive. Ellington is a cold-blooded shooter from beyond the arc and has a fine mid-range game as well. He makes it tough from opponents to double down on Hansbrough because of his shooting ability. He has good size for a guard at 6-4, allowing him to get a nice look at the rim over his defenders. While Hansbrough is out, the Heels are going to look to Ellington to be the primary option on offense. If Williams needs a clutch 3-pointer, Ellington has shown that he’s capable of knocking down big shots.

SF- Marcus Ginyard (SR): What David McClure is to Duke, Marcus Ginyard is to North Carolina, although Ginyard is a bit better. He played the third most minutes for the Tar Heels last season despite contributing only 6.9 PPG. He’s a great defender who does all the little things that don’t show up in the stat sheet and can play four positions. He’s not the most outspoken senior leader, but leads by example with his hustle and hard-working mentality. The Heels have no shortage of scoring options, so Williams just needs Ginyard to do what he does best: defend. Unfortunately, Ginyard is out for eight weeks after undergoing foot surgery meaning the Heels won’t have one of their senior leaders for most – if not all – of their non-conference schedule. Losing a player like Ginyard would be a pretty big hit for most teams, but Danny Green will suit the Tar Heels just fine until December.

PF- Tyler Hansbrough (SR): Nothing comes easy in college basketball, something the Heels are learning as they prepare for the season. In addition to the loss of Ginyard, Hansbrough is out indefinitely is a stress reaction in his leg. Hansbrough should miss only a couple weeks of the season but we’ll see if the possible nagging effects of the injury affect his play. I can’t really say anything else that even the most casual college basketball fans don’t already know about Hansbrough. I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing Jay Bilas ball wash Hansbrough, but it’s impossible not to admire somebody who’s undersized and not as athletic as his opponents, but is the best player in the country purely because of his work ethic.

PF- Deon Thompson (JR): The lanky 6-8 junior from California really came along for the Heels last season. He’s got plenty of raw talent but has some work to do technique-wise. Thompson gives North Carolina a shot-blocking presence down low, the only thing that Hansbrough doesn’t provide in the paint. Thompson is an average scorer and rebounder but is very athletic and runs the floor well. I think Thompson will be the most improved player on this North Carolina team when it’s all said and done.

Bench: Last year’s ACC Sixth Man of the Year Danny Green is a starter on any other team in the country. He’s a much better scoring option than Ginyard and is actually a solid shot blocker for a G/F. The Heels really could have used point guard Bobby Frasor last season when Lawson went down. Frasor can come in for Lawson at the point and run the offense with little drop-off. UNC brings in three McDonald’s All-Americans in Tyler Zeller, Ed Davis and Larry Drew Jr. Zeller and Davis will be the first two guys off the bench for the frontcourt while Drew Jr. is the 3rd guard behind Frasor and Green. These five players off the bench would probably be a competitive team in the ACC, which goes to show just how stacked UNC is this season.

Backcourt: A+
Frontcourt: A+
Bench: A+
Coaching: A

Bottom Line: I’ve been a firm believer that no team is capable of going undefeated in college basketball, but looking at this roster gives me second thoughts. They have the best big man in the country, one of the top backcourts in the country and go ten deep. One thing that UNC really needs to improve on from last season if they want to go undefeated is their defense. If they let a team like Michigan State, Duke or even Wake catch fire, they’ll could find themselves in some trouble. This team will get tested early with a very strong Spartan team and will face Notre Dame in the final of the Maui barring a pretty big upset. It’ll be a very tough road especially playing away from home where every crowd fired up to see their team beat the best team in the land.

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/18 vs. Kentucky, 11/24-26 Maui Invitational, 12/3 @ Michigan State,
Key Conference Games: 1/11 @ Wake Forest, 1/17 vs. Miami, 2/11 @ Duke, 3/8 vs. Duke.
Most Valuable Player: Tyler Hansbrough
Projected Postseason: NCAA (National Champion)

Posted in ACC Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Patrick’s Official Season Predictions

Posted by Patrick on November 8, 2008

https://i0.wp.com/i.a.cnn.net/si/2008/writers/seth_davis/02/19/stock.report/thabeet.jpg

Here are my official season predictions, and they are a lot different than Zach’s.

Patrick

ACC Champ: North Carolina Tar Heels, Player of the Year: Tyler Hansbrough

Big Ten Champ: Purdue Boilermakers, Player of the Year: BJ Mullens

Big East Champ: Connecticut Huskies, Player of the Year: Luke Harangody

Big 12 Champ: Texas Longhorns, Player of the Year: Blake Griffin

SEC East Champ: Tennessee Volunteers

SEC West Champ: Mississippi State Bulldogs, Player of the Year: Patrick Patterson

Pac-10 Champ: UCLA Bruins, Player of the Year: James Harden

First Team All America: Tyler Hansbrough, BJ Mullens, James Harden, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry

Player of the Year: James Harden

Coach of the Year: Mark Few

Defensive Player of the Year: Hasheem Thabeet

Breakout Player: Marcus Landry

Sleeper NCAA Tournament Team: San Diego

Sleeper Final Four Team: Pittsburgh

Top Non-BCS Team: Gonzaga

Top Mid Major (not Gonzaga or Memphis or UNLV): Davidson

Top Freshman: BJ Mullens

Final Four: North Carolina, Gonzaga, Arizona State, Connecticut

National Champion: North Carolina

Posted in Predictions | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Top 15 Freshmen; Friday News And Notes

Posted by Zach on October 31, 2008

One of the best parts of opening a new college basketball season is seeing the fresh crop of freshmen in action for the first time. Two years ago, Kevin Durant surpassed any expectation and became the best player in the country. Last year, the likes of Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love highlighted the deepest and most talented freshman class ever assembled. What’s in store for this year? Most prognosticators suggest this class is much weaker and supremely less talented. I respectfully disagree. This year’s freshman crop has athletes, scorers, dominating big men and all-around superstars who will shine for prominent national programs. Here’s my top 15 from the list:

1. DeMar DeRozan, USC:
I have high expectations for the young DeRozan out of Compton, a player whose highlight-reel athleticism and scoring ability is unmatched among his peers. If DeRozan plays to his potential, I feel he can match the production of O.J. Mayo last season and team up with Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett in bringing USC back to the top of the Pac-10.

2. Jrue Holiday, UCLA: Holiday is a 6’3 combo guard with an exceptional all-around game who does nothing but win. He’s the perfect Ben Howland player in that he’s smart on the floor and is advanced defensively for an incoming freshman. He could start immediately for the Bruins and headlines their impressive recruiting class.

3. B.J. Mullens, Ohio State:
Mullens is a versatile 7-footer (yes, it’s possible) who can face the basket or mix it up inside with his steady frame. He could be an impact double-double man right away for Thad Matta, and his upside is so high some have him pegged as the #1 pick in the next NBA Draft.

4. Samardo Samuels, Louisville: Samuels is a gem for Rick Pitino in a conference where you need a scoring big man. He’s an aggressive forward with great instincts and a knack for the rim. Samuels is extremely powerful for a freshman and will challenge players like Luke Harangody immediately.

5. Tyreke Evans, Memphis: Evans has to be Memphis’ best player from day one if John Calipari wants to return to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Thing is, he very well could be. The dynamic Evans is a confident scorer with excellent range and finishing ability.

6. Greg Monroe, Georgetown: Monroe has dropped on some recruiting charts, but I still feel he’s a perfect player for Georgetown and will shine. He’s blessed with a wide frame and tremendous rebounding skills under the rim. It might take Monroe a year to mold into a feared scorer in the Big East.

7. Willie Warren, Oklahoma:
Warren is a huge reason why I feel Oklahoma can be a top ten team right away. This versatile guard simply has a knack for scoring and should be that second impact players Jeff Capel needs beside Blake Griffin. Warren does need to improve his defense, though.

8. Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest:
I love what Aminu brings to the table for a rising Wake Forest team. He’s an excellent perimeter scorer who can face up mid-range and hit shots. Also, not many can match his athleticism and drive on the court. You don’t find scoring 6’8 small forwards every day.

9. Kemba Walker, Connecticut:
Walker is such an advanced point guard at his age, it’s silly. He reminds of Derrick Rose with his court vision, toughness and leadership. He’s also stout defensively and should see extensive minutes right away for a loaded Connecticut team.

10. Scotty Hopson, Tennessee:
Hopson is an extremely talented prospect who originally signed with Mississippi State. He rebounds well for a guard and can also score consistently. The talent is certainly there, and he’ll provide a steady duo with Tyler Smith in Knoxville this season.

11. Luke Babbitt, 12. Iman Shumpert, 13. Devin Ebanks, 14. Delvin Roe, 15. JaMychal Green

Some quick news and notes on this Friday:

– Roy Williams is planning a news conference today to give us more information regarding the Tyler Hansbrough injury. My guess: Williams estimates they’ll be without Hansbrough for the entire month of November and set a best-case scenario for December 3 vs. Michigan State in Detroit. What the Tar Heels cannot afford to do is rush the ultra-competitive Hansbrough back to action too quickly, because then the stress “reaction” can turn into a Marcus Ginyard stress “fracture.” Then, you’re talking about being without Hansbrough for the entire season, and the entire goal is to have him 100% for March.

– The NCAA has passed legislation disallowing those early practices that Kentucky and Illinois enjoyed as a way to kick off their season because it gives them a recruiting advantage. Maybe so, but, as Gary Parrish so accurately describes, doesn’t the NCAA have more important things to take care of? Like, coaches hiring AAU coaches of their top recruits as an advantage a la John Wall? Taking care of that loophole instead of eliminating early practices for next October seems to make sense.

– Arizona lost their top incoming freshman for this season, Jeff Withey. As I’ve stated before, Arizona could have a mini-Indiana on their hands next season if Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill enter the NBA Draft. They have zero recruits for 2009 because their Pac-10 rivals are stealing them all. Withey, a 6’11 center, was ranked as the #35 overall player by Scout.com. He joins Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Negedu as 2008 recruits that have jettisoned from Tuscon.

– Some surprising news out of Tennessee as J.P. Prince will miss 3-5 weeks with a shoulder injury he suffered in practice. If Prince cannot return in time for the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Siena’s chances of pulling an upset just went up a few notches. And if you don’t think it can happen….it can happen. Siena returns everyone from that thrashing of Vanderbilt.

– Prep star Kenny Boynton made his decision yesterday and will attend the University of Florida. Billy Donovan is assembling an impressive recruiting class for 2009, rebuilding quite successfully after losing that national championship core. He chose Florida over USC, Duke and Texas. Boynton might be the quickest and purest scorer in the entire class, ranked as the #2 SG by Scout.com. He’s an absolute gem in what should be a tremendous backcourt for the 2009-10 Gators.

Andy Katz has a piece on new California coach Mike Montgomery. I thought that was a great hire by Cal. It’ll stir up the Stanford rivalry again and Montgomery is a proven college coach with a track record. His failures at Golden State are irrelevant to whether he can get the job done at Berkeley.

– Nevada all-WAC guard Brandon Fields petty larceny charge has been dropped, but he remains suspended by coach Mark Fox. Don’t expect Fields to miss any significant action. Nevada should be the WAC favorite with Fields, Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson.

– What to expect from this site the next week or so: Big East #1, Pac-10 Preview, Big-12 Preview, ACC #5-1, Preseason Bracketology, Awards, Top 25, Games to Watch and possibly some more as we gear up for the start of college basketball.

Posted in News And Notes, Player Rankings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Tyler Hansbrough Out Indefinitely

Posted by Zach on October 31, 2008

Put those undefeated talks on hold. On the same day North Carolina was rewarded with a unanimous number one ranking by the coaches, the best player in college basketball and most celebrated Tar Heel in years- Tyler Hansbrough- discovered he has a stress reaction in his left shin and is out indefinitely.

He joins Marcus Ginyard and Ed Davis as players hurting right now for coach Roy Williams. But this Hansbrough injury trumps any that may occur in college basketball this season if it turns out to be majorly serious. The Heels are partially relieved because they caught the injury before it became a stress fracture, which probably would have ended his season. Williams will address the problem in a press conference Friday.

It’s hard to tell how long North Carolina could be without their preseason All-American. The best medicine for this type of injury is rest and more rest, and UNC has already released a statement saying Hansbrough will be “out for a while.” Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports estimates he might not see the court until mid-December. It’s really unpredictable at this point.

True college basketball fans have to feel sad for the senior forward. Here’s a player who is ultra passionate about basketball and his team, one of those rare gems that stays in college for all four years. It would have been exciting to see this loaded North Carolina team at full strength for the entire season. Now they could very well be without Hansbrough for a Maui Invitational with Texas and Notre Dame (who is going to contain Harangody now? Deon Thompson?) as well as a Ford Field battle with Michigan State. It’s still too early to tell, though.

Hansbrough averaged 22.6 PPG and 10.2 RPG for the Final Four Tar Heels last season. He won National Player of the Year in his junior season and is the favorite to defend that honor this year. The Tar Heels open November 15 against Penn at home.

Gene Hansbrough, Tyler’s father: “He’ll be OK. His leg’s been bothering him for a couple of weeks. It’s a stress reaction and he needs to rest a bit. He just needs time to let it heal. There is no reason for him to limp through it.”

“I just hope he recovers soon.”

So do the Chapel Hill faithful.

Posted in Injuries, Quick Posts | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Smith And Plumlee Starting For Duke; ACC Media Day

Posted by Zach on October 27, 2008

Seth Davis attended Duke’s practice over this weekend and wrote an in-depth rundown over at SI.com (By the way, since Clark Kellogg is now the #1 play-by-play man for CBS, Davis will be joined by Greg Anthony in the studio for their college basketball coverage). He writes about how Jon Scheyer will take the big shots for the Dukies, how Kyle Singler put on 20 pounds to counter the workload of playing in the post, and how bust Lance Thomas (should have gone to Rutgers) may find himself in the outside looking in with Coach K’s man crush David McClure, 7-foot stiff Brian Zoubek and 6’8 freshman forward Miles Plumlee receiving more playing time.

The story of Plumlee is ironic because Duke scooped him up after he de-committed from Stanford when Trent Johnson left for LSU. Of course, Duke assistant Johnny Dawkins ended up taking the Stanford job. Coach K didn’t do any favors for his long-time assistant and continued to pursue the improving Plumlee. I thought Plumlee would spend a year off the bench as a role player getting asserted into the Duke mindset, but their lack of size (and faith in Thomas) means he might start at the 5-spot.

Davis: For someone who is as young and tall as he is, Plumlee has plenty of meat on his bones, and he is very agile to boot. (Krzyzewski told me he jumped 6 feet, 9 inches for his high school track team.) He seemed a little lost at times basketball-wise, but that’s nothing unusual considering it was only his fourth practice. Plumlee is Duke’s best shot-blocker, and he fits the Blue Devils’ wide-open style much better than 7-1 sophomore center Brian Zoubek. If the season started today, Plumlee would be Duke’s starting center.

Also surprising is near confirmation that Nolan Smith will start at point guard for the Blue Devils over three-year starter and senior Greg Paulus. Paulus was slowed by knee injuries over the summer and the vast improvement of Smith, along with his athleticism and purer point guard skills, appear to have given him the edge.

Smith had a listless workout when I was there, but that’s only because he was trying to shake off a stomach virus that had him vomiting for two straight days. Everybody I talked to, Krzyzewski included, said that Smith had played better in the summer and fall than any other player. And when I raised the question to Coach K that this development might be tough for Paulus to deal with, he brushed me off. “There’s only one ego on this team, and that’s our team ego,” he said. “So everybody is responsible for doing what’s best for the team. This isn’t some inherited wealth. Each year you have to earn it. That doesn’t mean Greg’s a bad player, but right now Nolan would start.”

I asked Krzyzewski if he had talked to Paulus about this. “We talk to all of our guys. We’re a program of full disclosure,” he said. “You have good chemistry by telling the truth. You can tell a lie without ever saying anything, just by not playing the right people.”

Surely a bold move by Coach K and we’ll see how long it lasts. I wouldn’t doubt the motives of Coach K, though; for all of Paulus’ talent, he knows his players more than anyone. And having Paulus’ shots off the bench could be genius. Expect a small crunch time team of Smith-Paulus-Scheyer-Henderson-Singler.

Today was ACC Media Day in Atlanta and here were the final results for preseason standings/teams (rundown of various thoughts by Jeff Goodman here):

1. North Carolina (unanimous 1st place)
2. Duke
3. Wake Forest
4. Miami
5. Clemson
6. Virginia Tech
7. Maryland
8. Georgia Tech
9. N.C. State
10. Florida State
11. Boston College
12. Virginia

(I’d have BC slightly higher, and NC State could emerge if the reports of Brandon Costner looking like the Costner of old are indeed true. Not sure about Georgia Tech; Shumpert may be their best weapon).

All-Conference Team
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina (unanimous)
Tyrese Rice, Boston College (unanimous)
Jack McClinton, Miami
Ty Lawson, North Carolina
Gerald Henderson, Duke

(No arguments from me here. Toney Douglas of Florida State is my sleeper for this team after the season).

Player of the Year
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Rookie of the Year
Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

I’m loaded the next two nights so expect my #3 Big East team (Notre Dame) on Wednesday.

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Chase For Perfection: UNC Tar Heels

Posted by Zach on October 14, 2008

Unlike past Octobers, there is no debate over who should be deemed the preseason #1 team in the nation. In a near consensus for anyone with their head screwed on properly, North Carolina takes the honor.

Most major programs in BCS conferences would kill to have just three or four players on North Carolina’s roster for their own squad. Never before in my short life following college basketball can I recall a team so loaded in every capacity of the game. They tout the reigning national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough, a dominant power forward in Deon Thompson, the best sixth man in the country in Danny Green and two top-15 recruits in Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller. And that’s just the frontcourt. Don’t forget about the best guard duo in the nation- Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington- to go along with former starter and pinpoint shooter Bobby Frasor and, you guessed it, another five-star recruit in Larry Drew. It’s simply unfair.

For a college basketball team so completely stacked, the one question remains: can they do it?

And by do it, I mean finish the regular season undefeated. People thought going 16-0 in the NFL was a near impossibility until the Patriots pulled it off. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this North Carolina team finishes the regular season with a perfect record. Not when I look at that roster.

Here are some of the roadblocks that UNC might run into on their path to immortality in 2008-09. Since college basketball is so damn unpredictable, this may be a futile exercise (anyone remember a certain Maryland team going into Chapel Hill and stunning these Heels?), but I figure this roster is so talented, a stunning upset at the hands of, say, Boston College or Virginia Tech will likely be avoided.

11/15 vs. Pennsylvania

Don’t underestimate the Quakers. This team can play with anyone in the country.

(Kidding, of course. Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.)

11/26 vs. Texas/Notre Dame (Maui Invitational)

This is the second stiffest non-conference test for the Heels. They’ll face either a Texas team led by A.J. Abrams, Damion James and Justin Mason or a Notre Dame team with the dynamic inside-outside duo of Harangody and McAlarney. Notre Dame could give them the toughest test if Harangody handles Hansbrough and cancels out North Carolina’s best player. Tory Jackson can also match the speed of Ty Lawson. On the other hand, UNC can put up 100 points on Notre Dame’s often lackluster defense. Both of these finals could be classics, but it’s hard to say either of these teams are great matchups against the Tar Heels, especially on a neutral court.

12/3 @ Michigan State (Detroit)

North Carolina and Michigan State, the respective favorites in each of their conferences, were pitted to face off in the ACC-Big Ten challenge this season. Michigan State will enjoy a home-court feel with the game in Detroit, although the spacious facility (to say the least) may prove any sort of Spartan advantage moot. This game matches the quickest guards in the country, Kalin Lucas and Ty Lawson. Also, with Ginyard injured, Raymar Morgan may have a breakout performance. Still, who is guarding Hansbrough? Freshman Delvon Roe? Goran Suton? I don’t think so. Michigan State will test UNC but falter in the end.

1/11 @ Wake Forest

If everything comes together quickly for the youthful Demon Deacons, they could challenge North Carolina. Wake would need to perform like they did against Duke at home last season. That means depending on their stout freshmen and sophomores for a near-perfect performance. I wouldn’t count on it all coming together against Carolina, even at home and even relatively early in the conference season when Roy Williams may not know the Wake freshman so well. This is a definite test, though.

2/11 @ Duke

As much as the Cameron Crazies would give their future first-born to defeat undefeated North Carolina in Durham and end their undefeated ride (or beat them with one or two losses, like it matters), I don’t feel Duke matches up well with North Carolina at all. Unless Paulus, Singler and Scheyer put on a show from behind the arc like they showed they’re capable of back in Chapel Hill last season, you’ll see this contest finish more similarly to the game in Cameron. Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek are way too soft to handle Hansbrough and Thompson, so they’d have to win in a shootout, which I don’t see happening.

2/15 @ Miami

Miami, usually reserved for the middle ranks of the ACC, are contenders for a second place finish this season. Led by one of the top players in the nation in Jack McClinton and freshman stud Dequan Jones, the Canes have a chance. The depth of the Heels is the difference and the ultimate reason why they’ll take care of Miami.

So, what do you readers think: Which game poses the biggest threat to North Carolina? If I had to choose one loss, I’d say the Spartans. But in the end, my inclination remains that UNC does not lose this season.

The NCAA Tournament? That’s a whole different story.

Posted in Features | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

NCAA Position Rankings: Top 10 PF

Posted by Tommy on August 4, 2008

Power forwards are the tough guys on the court. They bang bodies down low, battle for rebounds and jump on loose balls. This year’s class of power forwards is very top-heavy with three potential Naismith candidates and other players that will see increased offensive roles. The players on this list not only do the little things for their respective teams, they can fill the stat columns as well.

1. Tyler Hansbrough: No surprises here. The reigning Naismith Award winner returns to the Tar Heels for his senior season and looks to lead them to a National Title. He not only fills the stat sheet with 22.6 PPG and 10.2 RPG last season, but he brings hustle and intensity to the floor and believes that every loose ball belongs to him. Barring injury, Hansbrough should put up similar numbers this year and is the front-runner for the Naismith again this year. What he really wants is a national championship.

2. Luke Harangody: Harangody exploded onto the scene last season and won a much-deserved Big East Player of the Year as a sophomore. The big man used his great combination of power and touch around the rim and averaged 20.4 PPG and 10.6 RPG in only 29 min./game. The Irish have a lot of the same faces around for the upcoming season, so defenses can’t give Harangody too much attention. I think Harangody can improve on last year’s numbers and perhaps even make a push with Hansbrough for National Player of the Year.

3. Blake Griffin: Like Harangody, Griffin has the potential to throw himself into Naismith Award conversation. He had a good freshman season with 14.7 PPG and 9.1 RPG and showed us he has the potential to become a superstar. He shot a 56.8% from the field last season, showing that he is very tough to stop down low. One chink in Griffin’s armor is his free throw shooting. He shot 58.9% from the line last season, which is one reason he doesn’t have a higher PPG average. If he improves his free throw shooting ability and takes more shots from the floor, Griffin’s point numbers will sky-rocket during his sophomore season and will probably end up being next year’s number one pick in the NBA Draft.

4. Jon Brockman: After testing the NBA waters, Brockman returns to Washington to improve his draft stock. His numbers were very impressive last year with 17.8 PPG and 11.6 RPG while shooting 53.6% from the field. He plays tough down low and has a very good variety of post moves. With the departure of the Lopez twins and Kevin Love, the Pac-10 is pretty small this year, so look for Brockman to really beat up on his opponents and put up big numbers throughout the season.

5. Jeff Adrien: UConn’s leading scorer is back for his senior season and looks to improve on last year’s 14.8 PPG and 9.1 RPG. What I like most about Adrien is his toughness and strength; finesse is not a word in his vocabulary. He brings energy to the game every second he’s on the court and doesn’t mind doing the dirty work down low. Since he plays in a conference with the a lot of the best frontcourts in the nation, it’s tough for Adrien to put up huge numbers, but he plays his role well and knows what he’s capable of.

6. Raymar Morgan: Morgan hasn’t really seen a big scoring role for Tom Izzo in his first two years as a Spartan. With the departure of their main offensive threat Drew Neitzel, Morgan is going to play a much bigger offensive role this season. He averaged 14 PPG and 6.1 RPG last season which isn’t too impressive, but he shot 55.8% from the field. If Morgan polishes his jumper and improves on his scoring ability down low a little bit, Morgan could average around 20 PPG in a conference that isn’t exactly known for it’s scoring.

7. Jeff Pendergraph: Much like Brockman, Pendergraph will benefit from the lack of size in the Pac-10. He shot nearly 60% from the field last season but only averaged 12.4 PPG. There were plenty of games in which Pendergraph only took 3 to 5 shots. Another interesting thing is that his rebounding dropped 3 RPG from his sophomore season. He has shown he has the ability to take over a game, but he just needs to be involved in the offense every time he steps onto the court. If he scores and rebounds like he is capable of doing, he is a First Team Pac-10 player.

8. Dior Lowhorn: Lowhorn saw his scoring increase from 7.2 PPG for Texas Tech during the 05-06 season to 20.5 PPG last year after he transferred to San Francisco. Lowhorn’s consistency is remarkable, scoring no less than 10 points in every game and he can score against anybody. Last year, he had a 26 point performance against Blake Griffin and Oklahoma, scored 20 points against Luke Harangody and Notre Dame and dropped 29 against Oregon. Lowhorn is a force to be reckoned with in the WCC and can put up big numbers versus larger non-conference opponents as well.

9. Greg Monroe: As a lengthy 6’10” freshman, Monroe is going to be a great talent for the Hoyas. He’s a great rebounder and shot blocker and has a good mid-range game for a player his size. If he develops his scoring ability from the block and gets tougher down low, Monroe can be an instant contributor for John Thompson III. If he decides to stay at Georgetown for a couple of years in order to improve his game, he could be a top 3 NBA draft pick.

10. Ahmad Nivins: Nivins shot an incredible 64.7% from the field last season, and has never shot worse than 60% as a Hawk. Despite Nivins’ shooting percentage, his numbers dropped from 16.2 PPG and 7.4 RPG his sophomore season to 14.4 PPG and 5.8 RPG last year, and he saw one less min./game. Why this is I don’t know, but I do know that his numbers will be higher than they ever were for his senior season. St. Joe’s lost their leading scorer in Pat Calathes, so more of the scoring load will fall on Nivins’ shoulders. I think Nivins has the ability to fill the shoes of Calathes and could very well be the A-10 Player of the Year.

Also Considered: Kyle Singler, Damion James, Samardo Samuels, Mike Cook, Marcus Landry, Arinze Onuaku.

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