Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Kenneth Faried the best big man in college basketball?

This was originally posted over at Veteran Leadership.

If I had to choose one big man for my college basketball team this season, I would take Kenneth Faried of Morehead St. He is not the most well-known player (how many people even know where Morehead St. is?), and he's not the guy with the most pro potential, but he just so happens to be the best big man in college basketball.

Physically, he is like a man among boys in the post. This is obviously especially true against mid and low-majors, but he has also been excellent against some of the top teams in college basketball. He is very strong, and very quick for a man of his size. He just looks bigger.

He is the best rebounder in college basketball (he is tied for the rebounding lead right now with over 14 per game, he was second in the NCAA last year with 13 per game, and third 2 years ago with 13). He is very, very good at using his body to seal the defender to get into position, and he certainly has a nose for the ball. Also, it doesn't show up in the stat sheet, but he is great at tipping the ball to keep it alive for his team. He certainly projects, in my mind, to be an elite rebounder at the pro level.

As of today he is 6th in offensive rebounding percentage and 2nd in defensive rebounding percentage in the country.

He is also very good defensively, using that quickness and athleticism to erase shots at the rim. He is the reigning OVC Defensive Player of the Year (and Player of the Year, for that matter) and he looks poised to defend his crown. The Eagles often use him as the base man in a 2-3 zone, and he really takes away a lot of opportunities for driving to the hoop and finishing at the rim. I have noticed that sometimes he relies a little too much on his athleticism, and does not get into proper position because he thinks he can recover, but overall, there is very little to complain about defensively. So far this year he is averaging over 2 blocks and 2 steals per game. That is Hakeem Olajuwon-esque.

On the offensive side of the ball, he certainly does not project to be a dominant low-post scorer in the NBA, but he is not without skill. He is surprisingly adept with his left and right hand, and is a solid ballhandler for a true post man. He is also a solid passer, and finds the open guys on the perimeter. Putbacks are a big part of the game, as it is perfect for his elite rebounding skills, and his ability to finish with power at the rim. Free throw shooting is a definite chink in his armor, but on the college level he can simply overpower a lot of guys.

Kenneth Faried is not a perfect player, and he will not be the top pick in the NBA Draft come next June... but for my money, I'd take him as the best big man in college basketball right now. He is one of the top rebounders and defenders down low in the land, and he's more than capable of putting 20 points per night on the board. You can't ask for too much more than that from your big man. He averaged 17 PPG last year on 56% shooting, and both of those numbers have improved this year.

What are your thoughts? Would you rather have another big man instead of Faried?