Jay Bilas' Top 5 Frontcourts
seedofdoubt Nov 8, 12:07 p.m.
Hairston will suprise a lot of folks this year. He has slowly developed into a solid player on both sides of the court. Marshall Pumblee (when recruited) was said to be the best player of the 3 Pumblees, but we'll just have to wait and see. I expect Murphy to show up for this next game or Jefferson will be starting in his place for the next couple of months.
903 mens national championships Nov 8, 12:43 a.m.
The 6-8 Amile Jefferson provides a versatile defender and scorer who will be effective finding opportunities around the goal. And 6-7 Josh Hairston is more confident and has shown the ability to guard effectively and knock down an open midrange shot.
On the cusp
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Mark Gottfried runs a UCLA high-post offensive set, with several wrinkles and tweaks, that takes good advantage of his talented big men. The lead dog in the Wolfpack is the versatile C.J. Leslie, whom Gottfried tries to get the ball from the elbow to the mid-post and allow him to go to work. Leslie is as talented a forward as there is in the country, and he has the opportunity to be ACC Player of the Year.
The unsung performer in N.C. State's frontcourt is Richard Howell, who is an outstanding offensive rebounder. We tend to focus on his fouls, but Howell is a talented and relentless rebounder who goes after the ball and keeps it when he can grab it. Howell is a double-double guy for Gottfried. Those two, by themselves, place NC State on this list. But 6-8 freshman T.J. Warren is a talented scorer who has the chance to be very good, and 7-footer Jordan Vandenberg can clog the lane in limited reserve minutes.
903 mens national championships Nov 8, 12:42 a.m.
We always hear that college basketball is a guards' game. Of course that is until you need a rebound or someone to protect the rim. The truth is that both guards and big men are important for title-contending teams, and there has not been a Final Four team that lacked quality frontcourt play or couldn't defend and score in the post. We can quibble about which is more important, guards or big men, but there is no question that guards cannot win by themselves.
So, which squads measure up the best down low in 2012-13? Here is my ranking of the top five frontcourts, along with two more on the cusp.
1. Kentucky Wildcats
2. Louisville Cardinals
3. Syracuse Orange
4. UNLV Rebels
5. Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils, right or wrong, are known for guard play. This season may bring a different look and feel. Mike Krzyzewski will start the season looking more to play inside-out, and playing through his talented senior big men Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly.
Plumlee is an outstanding rebounder and has improved his low post game to be a reliable post scorer. His free throw shooting has been an adventure, but Plumlee has matured into an outstanding and productive player who can step in and be Duke's star this season. Kelly can post, but he also can step away and knock in open 3-point shots. Both Plumlee and Kelly are excellent passers as big men, and both can control the glass. The addition who can really make a difference is a healthy Marshall Plumlee, a 7-footer who is strong, physical and a good athlete who works really hard. Marshall Plumlee, when healthy, is among Duke's first six players in the rotation. Alex Murphy is an athletic 6-8 face-up forward who can pass and shoot, and reminds you a bit of Mike Dunleavy.
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