Friday, March 30, 2007

Dominant College Basketball Players--Numbers 6 & 7 and Current Players

This is the next to last installment in a series of post examining the most dominant college basketball players since the 1990-91 season. In this edition, I reveal the numbers 6 & 7 most dominant players and examine where current players might fit into all of this.

6) Jamal Mashburn (Kentucky): Along with Rick Pitino, Mashburn put UK basketball back on the map. I’ve heard it argued before that Mashburn was the single most important recruit to an individual program...ever. It’s hard to argue with that. Mashburn’s arrival in Lexington made it OK for top-tier players to come to the Bluegrass again. I really do believe that Monster Mash was indirectly responsible (although Pitino was obviously the main force) for the collection of talent that came together in Lexington in ’96. His game was ridiculous. Hard to pick out a more versatile player. Overpoweringly strong in the post and even better facing the basket, he was an offensive juggernaut who took pride in hitting the boards. His defense could have been better, but now I’m starting to nitpick.

7) Grant Hill (Duke): Until late in his Duke career, Hill never had to be “the guy” for the Blue Devils. However, he was the epitome of dominance during the season in which he took Duke to the Finals against Arkansas (his senior season). Hill was always an excellent all-around player, but I never really thought he made those around him better. He lacked that killer instinct that makes the great players great. Unselfish almost to a fault. However, despite these criticisms, Hill was perhaps the most talented all-around player that the college game has ever seen. Ultra smooth with the ball in his hands but decidedly uncool. (I know that description kind of sounds like I'm dogging Hill. It's just that I felt like I had to justify his exclusion from the Top 5, which is hard to do.)

Current Players:

As always, this isn’t about the best players. Rather, it’s about the most dominant. Otherwise, Alando Tucker and Arron Afflalo would have made the cut.

There are 4 current players that I think deserve to be on this list.

Glen Davis (LSU): Not even a First or Second Team All-American this year in my book. In fact, I wouldn’t even give him SEC Player of the Year honors. Instead, I’d give Chris Lofton the nod. Still, the Big Infant has put together an excellent career in Baton Rouge, and I think he’s going to be a much better pro than the experts seem to think. Davis would fit into the Overpowering Beasts category, despite the fact that he is remarkably agile for a man his size, or any size for that matter.

Kid Nut Raven (Texas): All year I tried to resist proclaiming Durant the best player in college basketball. After all, Alando Tucker put in a whole career for the Badgers. Alas, what can you do? Durant is incredible. He has a Jordanesque competitive streak and truly seems to make those around him better. That being said, I still wouldn’t draft him ahead of Greg Oden. Give me Oden, I’ll trade for Rashard Lewis, and you can have Durant. You’ll sell some tickets and you might very well have the best player in basketball, but I’ll take the rings. Unless your name is Michael Jordan, big men win championships in the NBA. I’d probably put Durant in the Early Exits category, but, and I hate to admit this, I would also have to consider him for Top 7 status.

Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina): OK, so I’m backing off the whole next Elton Brand thing. He might not be a future Hall of Famer, but I’m still pretty in love with his game. Has anyone ever played harder? Like Davis, I’d probably put him in the Overpowering Beasts category.

Acie Law IV (Texas A&M): Yes, his senior year has probably been considerably better than his first 3 years at TAMU, but it’s not like The Fourth hasn’t put together a nice career. Tremendous in the clutch and a great team leader, it is no coincidence that A&M became a basketball force to reckon with during The Fourth’s stay in College Station. I’d put Law in the Breakthrough Performers category, despite the fact that his scoring average didn’t jump that much this season.

A few more comments on current players.

Corey Brewer (Florida): Would receive serious consideration for The Defenders category but seems to turn it off and on at times.

Nick Fazekas (Nevada): Numbers at Nevada are hard to ignore. Consistently amazing statistices throughout his career. Possibly a Keith Van Horn-type case.

Dominic James (Marquette): Really disappointing this season, but I think he’ll be on this list when it’s all said and done. The second coming of Jameer Nelson.

Joakim Noah (Florida): His energy, ability to run the floor, and passion are unmatched. Still, he’s not as good as Al Horford, and his numbers just don’t support his cause.

Greg Oden (Ohio State): I might need one more year. Then again, it would be hard not to put him in The Defenders category right now. Old Man Greg changes games like no one in recent memory.

Alando Tucker (Wisconsin): Great career. Will be a steal for someone on draft day, but I’m just not willing to call him dominant. Like Arron Afflalo, Tucker’s a tremendous all-around player but lacks that edge that makes him truly dominant.


Blogger Thelonius Monk said...

Fazekas has never seemed remotely dominant to me. I have yet to watch him play in the Mountain conference schedule, but when he plays against major conference teams he still seems to get his 20 and 10 but in a much less imposing way. He almost seems to just end up with 20 and 10 somehow because the players on his team don't do a whole lot except feed him the ball.

Dominic James was disappointing this season. He started out putting up numbers that would have landed him a spot on second or third team all-american, but quickly fell off. I know he had some nagging injuries but I was really expecting a more nationally prominent year from him.

How did you not refer to Jamal Mashburn as Monster Mash at least one time in your post. One of the greatest college basketball nicknames every. (Anyone who ever compared Palacios to Mashburn should be banned from watching college basketball for at least one year) However, I'm glad you didn't refer to Glen "Weatherman" Davis as his self proclaimed nickname "Big Baby."

Kid Nut Raven should be known as Kid Nut Raven for the rest of his life. The back of his Celtics jersey should read Nut Raven.

Grant Hill was great. But I also refused to watch Duke play from around the end of the 92 season until the end of the 98 season. So it's all just hearsay.

Ultimately, leaving Gimel Martinez out of this post means he must be in the top five which I am absolutely psyched about. Keep up the good work Natty.

March 30, 2007 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Jumping Bull said...

Yeah Natty, why didn't you refer to Mashburn as Monster Mash at least once in your pos...oh.

March 30, 2007 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger the butler said...

So I'm trying to do a little deductive reasoning to determine who your top 5 will be...and I'm already a little worried about Laettner being left out. I was going to let it slide if you put Grant Hill in there. I know, I's hard to associate the word "dominant" with Laettner. But no one has had a more successful college carrer since 1990. I understand my bias as a Dookie might be clouding my judgement, but I believe many non-Dookies would agree on this one.

I promise all these other players listed would trade the success of their own college careers for his in a heartbeat.

I guess Bobby Hurley and Jay Williams still have a chance as well, seeing as they didn't make it on any of the other lists.

I know I mentioned Respert in one of the earlier ones, as maybe one of the scorers...and you said you had something special planned for him.

Here's my point, I guess - and forgive me if you don't have Respert in the top 5-

I would agree with not placing a guy like JJ Redick in the top 5, and ONLY because he choked EVERY YEAR in the tournament. Had he not morphed into the second coming of Ernie Els every March...

For the same reason, I would leave out Respert, whose MSU teams never advanced past the second round (losing to Grant Hill's Duke team in '94).

March 30, 2007 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Natty Bumpo said...

The Butler, you make some good points. It was hard to leave Christian Laettner out of the Top 5. But, like Tony Delk, Laettner was surrounded by so much talent and was so unselfish at times that I just couldn't displace anyone in my Top 5. As I mentioned in the post, if this were a discussion of the best college basketball players (and not the most dominant), Grant Hill might be number one. Shawn Respert is not in my Top 5. When I responded to the Respert comment in an earlier post, I just meant that Runs With Two Horses always points out Respert as an example of a great college scorer. As for Bobby Hurley, you're probably going to be disappointed, as he did not make any of the categories. Perhaps a post explaining some of more notable omissions is needed. I do think you will be quite happy, however, with where Jason Williams ended up on this list.

March 30, 2007 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Runs With Two Horses said...

No complaints from this fella about this post. Grant Hill was such a complete player, an absolute joy to watch. Hill brought a ton to the table, but Coach K's failure to find more athletic slashers in Hill's mold is a reason why Duke always becomes one-dimensional when faced with a strong defensive team.

Your words about Jamal made me feel a little misty.

I've got to say that Laettner has to be somewhere on some list. Biggest Asshole or Best Offensive Players certainly fit what Christian brought. You can't put Luke Jackson on a list and pretend like he was more dominant than Laettner.

March 31, 2007 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Natty Bumpo said...

Laettner was on the complete players list, and, as much as I hate to admit, he was more dominant (by far) than Luke Jackson.

March 31, 2007 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger the butler said...

Don't get me wrong- I think Respert is one of the better scorers in NCAA history. It's terrible what happened to him - no telling how good he could have been in the NBA without his illness.

I have a feeling I'm going to completely agree with your top that I see I was mistaken about Mr. Respert.

We can all just pretend that you put Hurley, the NCAA's all-time assist leader, in the Dictators of Tempo category.

And how 'bout those games last night! Foul trouble robs us of possible classic showdowns. Tragic.

April 1, 2007 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Runs With Two Horses said...

Bill Simmons has been writing for a while about how the college game needs to move up to six fouls to keep games from being decided by which team is better at getting other players in foul trouble. Typically, I don't think the college game can improve itself by mimicking the NBA, but it's hard to argue with that when you see star players sitting on the bench for 15 or 20 minutes because of foul trouble. How many Greg Oden monkey dunks has this cost us?

April 1, 2007 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Leonard Peltier said...

The answer, Runs, is countless monkey dunks. In other news, it was recently revealed on a rivals message board that Billy Donovan was born to a virgin.

April 2, 2007 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Jumping Bull said...

Pat Summitt a virgin? Yeah right Leonard.

April 2, 2007 at 1:39 PM  

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