Have you ever had a feeling? Like when you're on the freeway and there's this car in front of you with the turn signal on, but you're nowhere near an exit, and they're going under the speed limit, and you just blurt out " That's gotta be an old woman!" Then everyone in the car takes offense at it, until you drive up next to the Ford Crown Victoria in question, and not only is she old and female, she's Asian too? That's the sort of vibe I get when I think about Psycho T, Tyler Hansbrough of the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Everyone else is saying how he'll be lucky if he's drafted in the first round and gets in the rotation at all his rookie year. They got him pegged as a future role player, maybe a Shane Battier if he works his ass off. Well, I got a feeling, and its a lot like the feeling I had about a certain Darko Milicic in 2003, except in reverse. Back then I couldn't understand why everyone was so hot on a kid who scored 6 ppg in a crappy Euro-league. But I thought, what do I know? I just watch the NBA, maybe everybody knows something I don't, maybe he's worth passing on Melo and Wade. Well, as you might imagine, ever since then I've become very much assured in my gut feelings, and my gut says Psycho T (coolest nickname ever) is gonna be one awesome NBA player.
Why, or more appropriately, how you ask? I dunno exactly. He's tall, but not that tall. He's not going to dominate at 6'9". Nowadays with Dirks, LeBrons, Melos, and T-Macs popping up everywhere, 6'9" is the new 6'. If you're not 7', you'd sure as heck better be hitting 20 foot j's and locking down on perimeter defense. Not really his strengths (Davidson might disagree). But there is just something about that guy, the way he plays, his focus, his smarts, his clutch cool, his self-confidence, whatever, that makes me believe there's no way he will settle for anything less than All-Star performance. He's like a marine in Crysis (obscure?), he'll walk on water if that's what it takes.
He wouldn't be the first guy everybody counted out that made them eat their words. Some of the greatest players in history were draft sleepers. Stockton and his heterosexual life-mate Malone, Bill Lambieer, Alex English, Mo Cheeks, Big Ben, the list goes on. Notice a theme with these players? All of them were/are (does Ben count as an "are"?) as hard working as any players ever seen. Malone's commitment to fitness was legendary, Stockton was a short, skinny white guy whose had as many perfect (no games missed) seasons as fellow models of effort Michael Jordan, Shane Battier, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash combined. Bill Lambieer terrorized opponents with relentless effort on offense and physical, bone jarring (read: dirty) defense.
So how does Hansbrough stack up against these all-time greats? Besides having one of the greatest collegiate careers ever, he matches all of the focus, intensity, commitment, and drive these legends are known for. You might just say they're all a little Psycho..