By Demario Phipps-Smith @DemarioPSmith on June 8, 2014
It's hard for most mid-majors to land top frontcourt players because big men are at a premium and they are being courted by the most successful programs in the nation. For the Missouri Valley, frontcourt athletes can spell the difference between a pretty decent season and a deep tourney run. The team with the best frontcourt will have a decided advantage in the MVC. Here are the five best big guys in the conference.
As an all-around player, Christian Thomas may be the best frontcourt guy in the MVC. He has a nice mid-range jumper and can rebound well despite not being an explosive athlete. Loyola (Chicago) will be dangerous if it puts more scorers around him.
There probably isn’t a big man more raw or with more potential that Bola Olaniyan. He was a double-double machine last year when he started receiving starter's minutes. With his strength and frame, he can be the best rebounder in the Missouri Valley.
Although Cunningham isn’t the traditional back-to-the-basket big man, he is one of the best post players recruited by the Valley in a long time. As seen by his high school stats (23 PPG, 14 RPG), this kid is versatile. Bradley won’t expect him to be Cleanthony Early in his first season, but is hoping he can become better with time.
As a freshman, Lynch led the conference in blocked shots with nearly three per contest. He terrorized the painted area while wearing a protective mask. He looked a like a super villain thwarting the plans of anyone trying to cash in on seemingly easy layups. Lynch has to stay on the court longer and avoid foul trouble so he can affect the rebounding battle more.
There aren’t many 7-foot players in any conference, and when paired with D.J. Balentine, Mockevicius gives Evansville a promising one-two punch. The big man from Lithuania led the Valley in rebounding and scored 12 points per game. He needs to be even more dominant if the Purple Aces expect to win the league.
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