Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who would you pick to build a team around?

During the last couple of days, two of the biggest media outlets have weighed in (albeit from slightly different angles) on the debate over who will be the best player in college basketball next season.

Over at Rivals, they pose the question "Which player in the best to build a team around?" Both writers went with centers - one picking Cole Aldrich and the other Ed Davis. Josh Herwitt from FOXSports made a list of the top 10 returning players, which was capped off by Luke Harangody.

Look, you may not like him, but it is very tough to argue with Herwitt's decision to name Harangody the best returner in college hoops. The guy is coming off of his second consecutive 20 and 10 season (averaging 23.3 ppg and 11.8 rpg in last year's brutal Big East). 'Gody worked his tail off while testing the waters of the NBA Draft and is now checking in at a svelte 245 lb. From what I've read about his pre-draft workouts, Harangody is getting off the floor much better than he was early in his career and has improved his jumper to the point that he can consistently hit NBA three's (watch this video).

Harangody tops the list of preseason Player of the Year candidates.
(photo credit: Daylife)

Combine that with his ability to nimbly score in the post, and Harangody is near unstoppable at the college level. With the graduation of Kyle McAlarney, the Irish are going to rely even more on Harangody at the offensive end. Would it surprise you if he finished the season averaging 26 and 12?

It shouldn't.

And if averaging 26 and 12 wouldn't surprise you, than that player has to be in the conversation as the best player. Its that simple.

But just because an argument can be made for Harangody as the best player in the country doesn't mean he is the guy that I would want to build a team around.

Think about it. Last season, Harangody was the focal point of an experienced team with two wings that could go for 25 on any given night (McAlarney and Ryan Ayers) and one of the most underrated point guards in the Big East (Tory Jackson), and the Irish had an incredibly disappointing season, missing the NCAA Tournament.

The way I see it, there are two schools of thought here. You either A) pick a talented and experienced point guard or B) choose a center that can dominate a game offensively and defensively. Lucky for Kansas, regardless of which theory I follow, I'm picking a Jayhawk - Sherron Collins or Cole Aldrich.

Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich will lead Kansas to their pursuit of a second title in three years.
(photo credit: ESPN)

Cole Aldrich is the total package at center. While he is not quite at the level of a Jarvis Varnado or Hasheem Thabeet, Aldrich is able to dominate the paint on the defensive end of the floor, blocking and changing shots while controlling the defensive glass. Offensively, he averaged 14.9 ppg as a sophomore, but most of those points came off of face-up jumpers or dunks. With his height, length, and strength, Aldrich has the potential to become a go-to scorer in the paint with an off-season of hard work.

Collins was very impressive as a junior in his first season as a go-to guy for the Jayhawks. His numbers were fantastic (18.9 ppg and 5.0 apg), but Collins brings much more than stats to the table. Whenever Kansas needed a big play, Collins was the guy that stepped up. And it wasn't just hitting big shots (which he did quite often), it was making the smart play in the big moments. He wasn't afraid to dump the ball off the Aldrich or hit one of the Jayhawk wings spotting up if he was covered. A leader and big-time scorer that makes the right plays and has championship experience - what more can you ask for?

With Collins and Aldrich leading a talented group of freshman and sophomore role players, and a star in the making in freshman Xavier Henry on the wing, is it any wonder Kansas tops most pre-season top 25's?

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