Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Best Frontcourts


In order to win a championship, everyone thinks guard play is necessary. That is true, but a team won't win without a solid frontcourt. If you have a post player that will get you a basket with the clock winding down, it gives you an advantage over smaller, guard-laden clubs. Rebounding and defensive stops down low will come easier if you have a good group of players in the paint. The best backcourts in the country will falter early in March without a solid duo or trio on the baseline. Who has the best frontcourts headed into the season? Starters in italics

Boston College (Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, Sean Williams*, Akida McLain, Evan Neisler): Heading into their inaugural season in the ACC, the Eagles have the frontcourt to compete for a league title. Smith is the best power forward in the country. He is extremely strong, and bulls his way to buckets everytime he gets the ball. Dudley is one of the more underrated players in the conference. He is one of the best forwards in the nation, but doesn't get the accolades. Dudley always finds ways to score. Williams is expected to become eligible as early as December. If he returns, he gives BC an outstanding shot blocker. McLain and Neisler will provide depth and will have to play more than expected until Williams comes back.

Duke (Shelden Williams, Josh McRoberts, Lee Melchionni, Eric Boateng): As the favorite to win the national championship, the Blue Devils are going to need excellent production to a frontcourt that includes two freshmen. Williams is the best post player in the country,offensively and defensively. He gets a double double every time out, and could be the best shot blocker in the nation. McRoberts is a candidate for national freshman of the year. He is an inside-outside threat. Melchionni stepped up in conference play a year ago, giving the Blue Devils a frontcourt player that could hit the three consistently. Freshman Boateng will give Williams a few minutes of rest each game, something he didn't get a year ago.

Maryland (Nik Caner-Medley, Travis Garrison, Ekene Ibekwe, James Gist, Will Bowers): The underachieving Terrapins are going to need more production from the post players than they received last year if they want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. Caner-Medley is not a problem, however. He is an excellent scorer that can shoot the jumper and post up smaller forwards. Garrison stepped his game up in the NIT, and needs to continue that this season. Ibekwe is extremely athletic that needs to improve his consistency in order to utilize his full potential. Gist is an extraordinary athlete that makes the most of his minutes off the bench.

George Washington (Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Mike Hall, Omar Williams, Regis Koundija, Alex Kireev): When Mensah-Bonsu and Hall withdrew their names from the NBA Draft, the Colonials immediately became a Top 20 team. Their frontcourt is versatile and athletic. Mensah-Bonsu is athletic and can block shots with the best of them. He needs to improve his low-post game if he is going to become a go-to-guy. Hall is one of the most underrated players in the country, and might be the best all-around player GW has. He lead the Colonials in rebounding. Williams produces in every aspect of the game and can play multiple positions. LSU transfer Koundija will be eligible once the first semester ends and will provide another body up front.

Connecticut (Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong, Ed Nelson, Jeff Adrien, Marcus Johnson): No matter what happens with their point guard situation, the Huskies' frontcourt will carry them throughout the season. Gay may be the best player in the country, and is the consensus #1 pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA Draft. However, he needs to become assertive and utilize his talent advantage more. Boone is another All-American candidate. He is a great rebounder and one of the best shot-blockers in the nation. He, like Gay, needs to become more aggressive offensively. Armstrong will step into Charlie Villanueva's vacated power forward position. He is a good shot blocker and has shown flashes on offense. Nelson played well in the NCAA Tournament and will get extensive minutes this season. Adrien and Johnson are talented freshmen that could have important roles.

Georgetown (Brandon Bowman, Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert): This is one of the more underrated frontcourts in the nation. Bowman thought about entering the NBA Draft, but pulled his name out. He is very athletic and can do a variety of things on the basketball court. Green was the co-Big East Rookie of the Year (with Rudy Gay), and is versatile. He can score in the post, but can also step out and shoot the three (40 percent from beyond the arc). Hibbert is a 7-2 shot blocker that needs to improve his offensive game. His role will expand this season.

Villanova (Curtis Sumpter, Jason Fraser, Will Sheridan): Usually overshadowed by their outstanding backcourt, the Wildcats' frontcourt is also very good, when healthy. Sumpter is a match-up nightmare for opponents, because of shooting ability and athleticism. He should be ready after undergoing surgery in April. Fraser's career has been filled with injuries. When is he able to go all out, he can be one of the best post players in the Big East. Will Sheridan has filled in admirably in the past when one of the starters goes down.

Louisville (Juan Palacios, David Padgett, Brian Johnson, Terrence Williams): This is one of the most talented frontcourts in the country. We will have to see if that talent results in wins, though. Palacios was underrated last season, as a result of playing forward opposite first round pick Francisco Garcia. He is athletic and can play any position on the floor. He needs to work on his hands, though. Padgett could have a huge impact on the Big East--when he returns from a foot injury that will sideline him for up to 8 weeks. The transfer from Kansas can shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as score inside. Johnson returns from an injury that forced him to sit out a season ago. Freshman Williams could have an impact on the wing.

Indiana (DJ White, Marco Killingsworth, Robert Vaden, Ben Allen, Cem Dinc): No frontcourt in the country will be helped more by newcomers than the Hoosiers'. White was the Big Ten freshman of the year last season, and should improve in leaps and bounds this year. Killingsworth could be best newcomer in the Big Ten. The Auburn transfer is a beast in the paint and will form a dominant inside tandem with White. Vaden is versatile but can now play on the wing, where is he most comfortable. Allen comes from Australia and is expected to make an impact off the bench. Dinc is a mystery. Not many people in the states have seen him play. The 6-10, 245 lb. German supposedly is going to be a match-up nightmare on the wing. The jury is still out on him.

Texas (PJ Tucker, Brad Buckman, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dion Dowell, Mike Williams): With the return of Tucker and Aldridge, the Longhorns may have the best frontcourt in the country (along with UConn). Tucker sat out the last 14 games of last season due to academics. He uses his strength to post up weaker small forwards and could be an all-American this season. Aldridge was lost after 16 games due to a hip injury. He may be the best center in the Big 12. Buckman is strong and tough to stop in the post. He averaged 13 points and 8 boards per game a year ago. Williams and Dowell should provide solid depth.

Oklahoma (Taj Gray, Kevin Bookout, Nate Carter, Taylor Griffin, Longar Longar): The Sooners' frontcourt is exactly what Kelvin Sampson likes, and it could carry them a long way in March. Bookout and Gray may be the best post duo in the nation. Gray is a favorite for the Big 12 Player of the Year after using his athleticism to dominate on both ends of the court. He runs the floor better than most of his opponents, as well. Bookout is the leader of the team and more of a back to the basket player than Gray. He shot nearly 60 percent from the floor last season. His hands and size make him tough to stop. Carter is a transfer from UC Riverside and is expected to have an immediate impact. Griffin and Longar are quality options off the bench.

Memphis (Rodney Carney, Joey Dorsey, Shawne Williams, Waki Williams, Kareem Cooper): This is one of the most talented frontcourts in the country; hopefully it can live up to its potential. Carney is the best athlete in the nation. He can score in a variety of ways, but is somewhat incosistent. Shawne Williams is going to be one of the best freshman in the country. He and Carney are both future NBA players and will be extremely difficult to deal with. Dorsey is an excellent rebounder but will need to embrace his expanded role this season. Waki Williams played well a year ago, while Cooper should have an impact off the bench.

Washington (Bobby Jones, Mike Jensen, Jamaal Williams, Jon Brockman): The Huskies don't have a dominant presence or a go-to-guy down low, but their quarter of forwards matches up with anyone in the country. Jones is versatile and can defend any position on the floor. He also shot 51 percent from three-point range. Jensen's minutes decreased with the emergence of Williams, but he is still valuable. He plays mostly on the perimeter offensively. Williams is their best inside option, despite being only 6-5. He averaged 13 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. Brockman is a freshman of the year candidate, both nationally and within the Pac-10. He is a physical inside scorer.

California (Leon Powe, Rod Benson, DeVon Hardin, Marquise Kately, Jordan Wilkes, Eric Vierneisel): An underrated frontcourt last season, the Golden Bears will now have one of the best in the country with the return of Powe. Powe was the Pac-10 freshman of the year two years ago, but sat out last season due to injury. He is one of the best forwards in the country. Benson was the leading scorer and rebounder for Cal and did a decent job replacing Powe. If he improves his defense, he will form a great post duo with Powe. Kately is an athletic wing that can provide scoring. Hardin and Wilkes will get plenty of minutes off the bench. Vierneisel is a great shooter and will play because of that.

Alabama (Chuck Davis, Jermareo Davidson, Richard Hendrix, Evan Brock): Even without the SEC's leading scorer in Kennedy Winston, the Tide's frontline should be the best in the SEC. Davis is athletic and is sometimes dominating when he gets the ball down low. He has a variety of low-post moves and can step out and hit the mid-range jumper. Davidson is a great rebounder and shot blocker who has improved his offensive game. Hendrix would have a chance to be the National Freshman of the Year if not for the two studs in front of him in the rotation. He will definitely have an impact, though. Brock is long and is solid around the basket.

Gonzaga (Adam Morrison, J.P. Batista, Sean Mallon, Josh Heytvelt, Mamery Diallo): Ronny Turiaf was the WCC player of the year last season, but he won't be missed tremendously with this frontcourt ready to take the floor. Morrison is the best small forward in the country and is a top candidate for the National Player of the Year award. He is tough to guard and is an unbelievable scorer. Batista stepped up in conference play and became a legitimate low-post option. Mallon started for the first half of the season before losing his job. He is a good rebounder and will get some easy baskets down low. Heytvelt could push Mallon for a starting job at some point during the season.

Other solid frontcourts: Cincinnati, North Carolina State, Iowa, Arizona, LSU, Florida


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  10. Im just wondering, but wheres Wake Forest in the list of best frontcourts. With potential all-american Eric Williams, solids players Kyle Visser and Chris Ellis, and well as impact freshmen Kevin Swinton and David Weaver, you can't leave the Deacons out. This is one of the top 10 frontcourts in the nation.