Dominant College Basketball Players--Early Exits and Beasts
Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse): In just one year, Melo made the jump from Oak Hill high school phenom to the main reason Syracuse finally gave Jim Boeheim a national championship. A big-bodied 3 that could physically dominate other wings and a skilled scorer, Anthony really hit his stride in the tournament. People forget that he was not that incredibly impressive throughout the course of the entire season. One more thing about Melo: he’s a big damn idiot. I’m glad he got suspended for 15 games for sucker punching Mardy Collins and then running away from the physically imposing force that is Jared Jeffries.
Anfernee Hardaway (Memphis): The phrase “upside” may have been created to describe Anfernee Hardaway. An athletic, long point guard, Penny physically dominated his opponents. More than just a floor general, he scored at will in the now defunct Great Midwest Conference (career 20ppg scorer).
Jason Kidd (California): Kidd’s Golden Bears knocked Duke out of the tournament the year after Duke beat Michigan’s Fab Five in the championship game. Kidd was more than a game manager. He was a threat to score and a shut-down defender. He physically dominated other point guards. A real quarterback on the floor. I have no doubt he would have been in the Top 5 had he stayed all 4 years.
Chris Paul (Wake Forest): I was never overly impressed with Paul, but you can’t deny the fact that he is a winner. If anyone questioned Paul’s talent (I know I did), one need look no further than the Demon Deacons’ season last year. With many heralded players returning, including Eric Williams and Justin Gray, Wake didn’t make the tournament and looked like a different team without Paul at the helm. One of the smarter point guards in recent memory. Made everyone around him better.
Jerry Stackhouse (North Carolina): Stackhouse’s sophomore season at Chapel Hill was something to behold. Obviously a physical specimen, Stack could have simply relied on his superior athleticism to get to the hoop. However, Stack had a very mature offensive game and developed an array of moves that would serve him well during his long professional career. While he never seemed to care much for playing defense, he was as skilled a one-on-one offensive performer as I’ve witnessed during my viewing lifetime.
Chris Webber (Michigan): A man among boys in his college days, C-Webb, like Stackhouse, never fell into the trap of relying on his natural abilities to take over games. Still an excellent passer, Webber used to be an excellent finisher on the break and a very explosive player. For all of his athleticism, it was apparent that he would have a long career in the NBA due to his intelligence, passing ability, rebounding instincts, and soft hands.
These overpowering tweeners were plenty big to play the 4 in college but weren’t long enough, quick enough, or skilled enough to run with the Chris Webbers and Kevin Garnetts of the Association. (Obviously, Elton Brand is an exception here, as he has more than proven capable of being a top tier player in the NBA.) These tweeners entered their freshman years with bulging biceps, thick necks, and broad shoulders (think Paula Abdul early in her career). They were men among boys, and the development of their offensive games may have suffered because of it. Able to rely on their superior strength, they never had to develop go-to offensive moves or jump shots. Unfortunately, in the NBA, the bull rush to the hoop maneuver often results in a charging foul or a rejected shot that lands in the 4th row of the stands.
Elton Brand (Duke): Due to Brand’s leaping prowess and his ability to legitimately play the 5 at Duke, it’s almost a stretch to categorize him in this group. However, few college athletes physically dominated their peers the way Brand did during his stay in Durham. Not coincidentally, Brand's stay at Duke coincided with the only period of my life when I actually rooted for the Blue Devils.
Marcus Fizer (Iowa State): People forget what a force Fizer was during his college career. An almost unstoppable scorer on the blocks or with his face to the basket inside the elbow, he was a career 18.9 ppg scorer for the Cyclones. Fizer admittedly benefited from being fed by Jamaal Tinsley, one of the best college assist men in recent memory.
Danny Fortson (Cincinnati): The transformation of Fortson from college scorer to NBA hack has been pretty much seamless. It’s as if he realized that he would never be a scorer in the NBA, so he just decided to accept his fate as a rebounder and designated personal fouler. As a college player, however, Fortson was dominant on the offensive end. Rather than relying on the bull rush to the hoop (utilized by Fizer), Fortson manhandled weaker players on the blocks. The body language of his opponents suggested that guarding Fortson was akin to being run over by a large vehicle repeatedly for 40 minutes.