Constructing The Perfect College Basketball PlayerPosted by zhayes9 on February 4th, 2011
Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.
Every college basketball player has flaws. Even the scoring leaders, double-double producers and faces of blueblood programs have portions of their game open to exploitation. For all of Jimmer Fredette’s heroic shooting performances, there’s the flat-footedness he sometimes shows on the defensive end of the floor. For every time Kemba Walker splits a ball screen and tear-drops a beautiful floater through the depths of the net, there’s questions abound regarding the reliability of his outside shot. For these numerous transformative qualities that make the cream of the crop in college basketball so memorable, no 21-year old can possibly have perfected his overall hoops arsenal.
That’s where I come into play. Working tirelessly for hours with the MIT Science and Engineering departments this week, I’ve successfully capitalized on the celebrated strengths and disposed of the much-critiqued flaws of some of our favorite players into one finished product. It is my honor and privilege to present my final creation: the perfect college basketball player.
Pure Scoring Ability of Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins– No player in college basketball can put the ball in the hole with as much variety and skill as Jenkins. The Queens native and two-time Haggerty Award winner as the top talent in the New York area will go down as the greatest player in Hofstra basketball history and one of the top scorers in CAA history. Jenkins’ efficiency totals are off the charts: 21st in offensive rating, 43rd in effective FG% and 14th in true shooting percentage and his raw numbers (23.3 PPG, 54% FG, 42% 3pt) are doubly impressive when one considers there’s only one other double-digit scorer on the Pride and, as a result, Jenkins has to deal with endless double and triple teams from opposing defenses. Jenkins shows an equal propensity and efficiency both driving to the basket and drawing contact (161 free throw attempts already this season) while defenses must also respect a pinpoint outside shot. Jenkins could play, start and contribute for any program in the nation, but his unwavering loyalty to the Hofstra program through losing seasons and coaching changes only renders Jenkins college career even more extraordinary.
Defense of Ohio State’s David Lighty– There were other candidates that certainly could have qualified for this specific trait, but the experience of a fifth year senior, his winning credentials and the aptitude to guard multiple positions were the main reasons Lighty received the nod. Folks tout Lighty as the ultimate glue guy, but he’s so much more than that because of his defensive prowess. Lighty can effectively guard a scoring point guard with the shot clock winding down or contain a bruising power forward in the lane with the same excellence. He has a remarkable ability to corral loose balls, take timely charges, collect steals without gambling and quickly transfer from defense to transition. There isn’t a smarter player who’s seen more different situations under the spotlight in his five years in Columbus than Lighty.
Versatility of Arizona’s Derrick Williams– There’s not a tougher player in America to guard than Derrick Williams because of his ability to score from any place on the basketball court. The raw numbers are, frankly, staggering: 19.9 PPG on 64% FG and 24-35 3pt. Williams not only possesses solid post fundamentals and a variety of scoring moves on the block, but he’s also lethal facing the basket and operating in the mid-range game all the way to the perimeter and beyond. The sophomore forward is also wildly efficient and supremely intelligent, showing tremendous awareness, a high IQ, length and athleticism. This makes Williams nearly impossible to contain once he touches the rock. His operational ability both around the rim and on the perimeter is the ideal blend of versatility we need.
Craftiness of BYU’s Jimmer Fredette– Combining the pure scoring ability of Jenkins with the overall offensive repertoire and craftiness of Fredette would certainly be something to behold. Unless you’ve been trapped under a rock the last two weeks, The Jimmer has become the face of the sport for his previously unimaginable shooting displays. How Fredette collects his 40+ point performances without even breaking a sweat has to be witnessed to truly appreciate. First there’s a spin move and a scoop in the lane amongst the trees. Then there’s a hesitation dribble, killer crossover and explosion to the rim for an and-1. Respect the drive and he’ll pull up in a split second for a dagger three from NBA range. There are no limits on the basketball court for Fredette on the offensive end. This year’s frontrunner for National Player of the Year has the intelligence and scoring craftiness that’s simply unmatched on the collegiate level today.
Court Vision of Ohio’s D.J. Cooper– Our perfect college basketball player not only has to be exemplary at scoring and rebounding, but must possess the court vision and passing ability to find open teammates when the inevitable double team arrives. The perfect candidate is sophomore guard D.J. Cooper, a tough Chicago kid who has piled up assists at an alarming rate since arriving on campus in Athens. As if dishing out nearly six dimes per game as a freshman wasn’t impressive enough, Cooper is averaging 7.7 APG per game as a sophomore to lead the nation. One may assume that these high assist totals also brings risky endeavors and a multitude of turnovers, but Cooper’s 2.17 A/T ratio playing 36 MPG over his two years at Ohio would suggest otherwise. Crediting his roots for spawning that aggressiveness and confidence that helps him on the basketball court, Cooper told ESPN that Chicago point guards like himself, UAB’s Aaron Johnson and Illinois’ Demetri McCamey “make guys better” and “creating is our style of play.”
Rebounding Instincts of Morehead State’s Kenneth Faried– Whenever you tie David Robinson for any all-time college record, it’s worth bragging about. Last week, Faried’s ho-hum 23-point, 23-rebound double-double tied The Admiral for tenth all-time in NCAA history, only adding to his already remarkable legacy playing under the radar for a school in the Ohio Valley Conference. One only needs to check the box scores against BCS-conference competition to confirm that Faried could play on any level, but it’s his tenacity, effort, intelligence and instincts on the boards that truly separates Faried from the pool of big men in college basketball. This season, Faried leads the nation in RPG by over 1.4 per contest, upping his 2009-10 totals from 13.0 per game to 14.3. Faried has not grabbed less than eight boards in a single game during his senior campaign, a remarkable statistic that shows an unwavering effort, incredible positioning and pure instincts when it comes to attacking the backboards.
Athleticism of Georgia’s Travis Leslie– I present to you, Exhibit A:
Speed Burst of Connecticut’s Kemba Walker– Like many of his fellow NYC point guards, Walker’s baseline-to-baseline burst honed on the pavement courts in the Bronx is one of a kind. Observe how quickly Walker can receive an inbound pass after an opposing bucket and fly from one end of the floor to the other like an Olympic sprinter for an answering layup, one that leaves the defense stunned and confused. The craftiness of Fredette molded with the bursting speed of Walker equals a truly unstoppable offensive weapon both in the halfcourt and in the transition game.
Lower Half of Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger– Very few freshmen have ever come along in the college game with such an advanced repertoire of effective post moves as Sullinger. His hook shots over both shoulders, drop-steps, bruising drives and short jumpers are all made possible by his girth. The lower half, from buttocks to thighs to calves, provides Sullinger the ability to back opposing post defenders closer to the baseline, allowing him to establish proper post position and quickly go to work on another 20/15 performance. Sullinger is a big, strong freshman man-child primarily because he’s so advanced in the lower half and he knows utilizing this gift properly in the post opens up scoring and rebounding opportunities. Judging his 18/10 average and his team’s #1 ranking, I’d say Sullinger’s taken full advantage.
Long-Range Shooting Ability of St. Mary’s Mickey McConnell– What McConnell has done from behind the three-point line during his junior and senior seasons are astounding. Once an occasionally-used sophomore averaging 5.4 PPG and shooting 42% from the field, something clicked before his junior campaign and McConnell has never looked back, taking 273 threes and making 135 of them for a clip barely under 50%. Try making half of your threes in an empty high school gym somewhere and the difficulty becomes much more real. Now imagine making nearly half of your threes in 273 attempts playing against Gonzaga in front of thousands of screaming fans in pressure-packed situations. McConnell’s prowess from downtown should not be overlooked on the national level and he’ll make the perfect complement to the athleticism, mid-range and inside scoring ability already encapsulated by our ideal college basketball unstoppable force.