If you’re a college basketball player at a major program, one of the greatest compliments that can be paid to you is to be “hated.” We’re talking sports-hate here, not the real derogatory, run-down, kind of hate, but hate inspired by a player’s ability to act as a thorn in the side of opposing teams. It took some time for Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski to come by that kind of desirable hate, but he certainly has, and he’s come by it honestly. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you play four seasons on your way to becoming the Pac-12’s all-time leading shot-blocker. Just flipping through Twitter on Tuesday night, you read things like “Flopynski” and comparisons to Vlade Divac or soccer players taking dives. Let me remind you, this is a guy with 309 blocked shots in his career, not exactly the kind of stat that indicates a guy that spends a ton of time flopping around the basketball court.
But really, the sheer fact that Bachynski has generated this type of feeling from opponents and opposing fans is proof of the accomplishments the 7’2” Albertan has under his belt. He arrived in Tempe at the age of 21, having completed his LDS mission between the end of high school and the start of his college career, meaning he went almost three years (factor in an ankle injury his senior year in high school that limited his ability to play at Findlay Prep) without playing competitive basketball prior to first donning a Sun Devil uniform. As a result, the long and lanky center needed time to build strength and conditioning, work on coordination and skill, and just get used to the new level of competition. It took him the better part of two years, but down the stretch of his sophomore season, he began to show glimpses of the player he would become. In the last 13 games of 2011-12, he averaged better than 10 points per game, knocked in better than 70 percent of his free throws (quite an accomplishment for a sub-50% guy to that point) and began to show his dominance as a rim protector, rejecting an average of two shots per game over that stretch.