College Basketball's 4 Most Under-Performing Big Men in 2011-12

Doug Brodess@DougbrodessCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2012

College Basketball's 4 Most Under-Performing Big Men in 2011-12

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    Big men in college basketball cause lots of hype.

    From the time that they commit to attend a school, we fantasize about the dominance they will unleash once they lace up for our team.

    The sad truth is that big men don't always deliver power and control over everything. Sometimes, they provide far fewer points and rebounds than we had anticipated.

    Here is a quick look at the four most under-performing big men in college basketball. They are contributing, just not at the level that many had expected them to in 2011-12.

4. James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina)

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    Even though there was no way that James Michael McAdoo was going to unseat either Tyler Zeller or John Henson when he came to Chapel Hill, he arrived with the reputation of making it "look easy."

    Most of the time this season, McAdoo has seemed a step behind the action when he comes off the bench for Roy Williams.

    He only has three double-figure scoring games to his credit (against such powerhouses as Mississippi Valley State, Evansville and Nichols State) and has yet to break that barrier for a single game in rebounding.

    McAdoo's averages are average (5.1 ppg  and 3.6 rpg) and his shooting percentages are substandard (39.2 percent from the floor and 59.4 percent from the line).

    Given more time to develop, McAdoo will probably turn out to be a good collegiate frontcourt player.

    For most of his freshman season, he has looked more like a player with which Tar Heel fans will continue to be frustrated.

3. Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt)

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    As a junior, Festus Ezeli tantalized Vanderbilt followers by scoring 13 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

    Everyone thought that the 6'11" center from Nigeria would have a breakout season as a senior.

    Unfortunately, his finale in Nashville has been nothing special.

    Ezeli started his last hurrah at Vandy suspended for six games in an embarrassing minor violation.

    After he put that behind him, his production has been down in every statistical category.

    He is averaging 9.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg (only third-highest on the team) while shooting the lowest percentage from the field (52.8 percent) of his collegiate career.

    Even though the Commodores are pretty much where most people thought they would be in the conference (third place behind Kentucky and Florida), they definitely could benefit in the final games of this season if Ezeli steps up and becomes more imposing. 

2. Joshua Smith (UCLA)

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    When Joshua Smith arrived on campus, he was supposed to be one of the top big men in the country.

    Ben Howland thought that the 6'10" post would make an immediate impact on the team.

    Bruins fans were giddy thinking about a return to the glory days of UCLA basketball.

    For most of his two seasons in Westwood, Smith has struggled with basic conditioning and on-the-court consistency.

    Even though he has elevated his scoring average as a sophomore to 10.4 points per game, he is still only grabbing 5.3 rebounds per game (behind both David and Travis Wear).

    What should have been a collegiate tuneup that prepared him for a promising NBA career has turned into two forgettable seasons.

1. Alex Oriakhi (UConn)

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    Alex Oriakhi enticed UConn fans and the college basketball world last year (and especially last March) when he looked like the next coming of Emeka Okafor.

    Last season, he was just slightly short of being a double-double guy (9.6 ppg; 8.7 rpg), and he was an intimidating force in the middle of the Huskies lineup.

    After putting up 11 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking four shots in the NCAA Championship game, it looked like the 6'9" forward from Lowell, Massachusetts was ready to take over this season.

    Instead, Oriakhi's production is seriously down in 2011-12.

    He is scoring less than seven points per game, and his rebounding numbers have almost been cut in half (4.9 rpg this season).

    Last season, Oriakhi had 14 double-figure rebounding games (with a high of 21 against Texas). This year, he has 14 games of four rebounds or fewer. OUCH!

    Without putting the Huskies' 2011-12 struggles on him, if Oriakhi would have just maintained his level of performance from last year, UConn would have won no less than five games that they have lost this season.