A quick look around the NCAA landscape as well as the NBA shows that in this day and age, dominant big men are more or less a thing of the past in basketball. Still, there are some talented low-post players, even if the guys on the wing get all of the hype.
Thanks to the dearth of dominant bigs, we’re going to combine the power forward and center positions as we take a look at who should emerge as the best post player in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013-14.
When you think of post players in the ACC, chances are your thoughts go directly to North Carolina and James Michael McAdoo. McAdoo has never fully lived up to his hype coming out of high school, when he was a McDonald’s All-American and projected to be a one- or two-year college player at a maximum.
Yet here he is, entering his junior season trying to shrug off the idea that he’s been a disappointment. The guy did average better than 14 points and seven rebounds per game last year after all.
Looking beyond McAdoo, you’ll see that there are some other good low post players in the ACC this year as well. First and foremost is Boston College forward Ryan Anderson, a 6-foot-9 junior who averaged 14.9 points and eight rebounds last year. Anderson would probably be on a lot more radars if he played anywhere but Chestnut Hill, as the Eagles have been somewhat irrelevant in the grand scheme of things for the last four years.
Another player to watch is Virginia‘s Mike Tobey, a 6-foot-11 sophomore who averaged 6.8 points and 2.9 rebounds last year. Tobey has solid skills for a center, and he’s also a guy coaches love because when he gets into the lane and draws a foul, they know he’s probably going to knock down the free throws, having connected on 79.4 percent of his attempts last season.
Of course, Tobey isn’t even the best big man on his team right now. That would instead be Akil Mitchell, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound bruiser who put up averages of 13.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season. He should come awfully close to posting double-double averages this season, and along with Tobey and Joe Harris, he’s a big reason why so many people are starting to jump on the Virginia bandwagon.
Devin Thomas could emerge as the bright spot for Wake Forest this season as the Deacs try to turn things around, and the 6-foot-9, 245-pounder is sure to improve on his freshman campaign in which he averaged 9.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting just under 50 percent from the floor. It’s a real possibility that Thomas could average a double-double as a sophomore, and should be at or near the top of the rebounding list at the end of the season.
Then of course, you have to talk about some of the newcomers to the conference. Among the new players who have a year or two of college ball under their belts, Syracuse‘s DaJuan Coleman has a chance to emerge as a force for the Orange. Last season was disappointing for Coleman, but the 6-foot-9, 280-pound post brings great physicality to the ACC.
Among the freshmen, the player who is most likely to blow up in his first season is Isaiah Hicks, who will actually need to fight McAdoo for playing time at North Carolina. The 6-foot-8 power forward is skinny and a little raw offensively, but he’s a freakish athlete who will immediately be one of the best shot-blockers in the ACC.
It’s also tough to talk about the ACC and not mention Duke, though their forward spots are going to be taken up by swingmen Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker, leaving limited minutes for a guy who could emerge as a dominant force down low, Semi Ojeleye. The 6-foot-7 freshman was named the Parade National High School Player of the Year a year ago.
So at the end of the day, who really is the best post player in the league? We have to give the nod to McAdoo. When you take away the possibly undeserved hype he had heading into last season and look at him objectively, he really did put together a very good season. Perhaps this is the year he finally emerges as the force so many people expected him to be.