College Basketball Predictions: 8 Players Who Will Dominate the Paint
Big men comprise the most one-sided economy in all of college basketball.
Everyone wants one, but they're nearly impossible to find.
Throughout all levels of basketball, one thing that coaches absolutely crave is a big man who can dominate the paint.
And for good reason.
Take a look at last year's Final Four: Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas.
What did all of those teams have in common?
A signature big man.
Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson and Jared Sullinger have all taken their talents to the NBA, while Jeff Withey and Gorgui Dieng are returning for another season (and naturally, make this list).
So, here's to eight big men who will dominate the paint in 2012-13—and if you happen to be a fan of a team who enjoys the service of one of these big fellas—consider yourself lucky.
8. Brock Motum
ESPN's Eamonn Brennan calls him the "best big man you've never heard of"—and you probably haven't heard of him—because he plays his ball on the West Coast, in the recently woeful Pac-12.
However, the 6'10" junior will surely become more of a household name this season, as the first-team All Pac-12 selection and his 18 points per game return to Washington State—primed to be the cornerstone of the Cougar offense.
7. Gorgui Dieng
Gorgui Dieng's overall averages at last season's end (9.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG) might not blow you away, but his game-changing, shot-blocking ability (3.2 BPG) should.
The 6'11" center from Senegal flashed his potential on the national stage last season with impressive performances during Louisville's Big East championship and NCAA tournament runs.
Included in that stretch were 16 points in the Big East semis and 17 blocks over a five-game span in the NCAA tournament.
He could be the closest thing to Anthony Davis in 2013.
6. Andre Roberson
Last season, many people were surprised by Colorado's run through the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments, but what they might not have realized was the Buffaloes had the services of future lottery pick Andre Roberson going for them.
The 6'7" Roberson, who was fourth in the country in rebounding last year, (11.1 RPG) will be returning for his junior season and should continue to be a force in the paint for Tad Boyle's squad.
5. Mason Plumlee
Not wanting to end his career by losing to Lehigh (cough, Austin Rivers, cough), Miles Plumlee showed some heart by deciding to return to Duke for his senior year.
Now, the 6'11" captain should be the go-to guy on a Duke squad that cost themselves games last year by not giving Plumlee enough touches.
Assuming Plumlee gets the touches he deserves, he should dominate on the inside and lead Duke to another ACC crown.
4. Jack Cooley
Cooley —nearly a spitting image of his predecessor, Luke Harangody—figures to challenge for Big East player of the year and become the leader of Mike Bray's Fighting Irish in 2012-13.
A relentless attacker of the glass, the 6'8" senior has progressed every season in South Bend. Cooley capped off last year by recording a double-double in seven out of his last 11 contests.
3. Trevor Mbakwe
For an opposing coach, planning for Trevor Mbakwe must be a nightmare.
Fortunately for Big Ten coaches, they didn't have to deal with that nightmare last season as Mbakwe suffered a terribly unfortunate ACL tear just seven games into the season.
However, the NCAA did grant the 6'8" power forward a sixth year of eligibility, and his terrorizing, hyper-athletic presence will be a mainstay in the middle of a Gopher lineup, which is coming off of a runner-up NIT finish just last year.
2. Jeff Withey
With the departure of Thomas Robinson will come the arrival of Jeff Withey.
Just as the Morris twins gave way to the beast that was T-Rob, I see the senior, Withey, stepping up into a big-time role for the Jayhawks by the time the winter months roll by.
Withey averaged nine points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game last year—a season in which he played second fiddle to Robinson in the post—and averaged a mere 24 minutes per game.
With a bump coming in minutes, development and his role in Bill Self's offense, Withey could be looking at a stat line of (16 PPG, 10 RPG and 4 BPG) by season's end.
1. Cody Zeller
Cody Zeller doesn't need me to be his hype man.
Zeller could have been a lottery pick this season, (and even been drafted before his brother!) but chose to stay in school and anchor an absolutely loaded Tom Crean squad in Indiana.
The only question still remaining is: Will he be good enough to lead the Hoosiers to a national title?