Ranking the Best 7-Footers in College Basketball

David Aldridge@davidmaldridgeFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2013

Ranking the Best 7-Footers in College Basketball

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    You can't teach size.

    And when you talk about big men, there's something iconic about 7-footers. Some of the greatest players in the history of the game were 7-footers.

    Guys like Lew Alcindor, Wilt Chamberlain, Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon will always be college basketball legends because of the way they dominated the game.

    There aren't any players of their caliber currently in college basketball, but there are still some great 7-footers.

    The following list ranks the seven best 7-foot players in the country. The rankings are based on the impact each player has on both ends of the court and the significance he has for his team.

7. Przemek Karnowski: Gonzaga

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    Many college basketball insiders viewed it as a steal last year for Mark Few when he landed the services of Przemek Karnowski.

    Karnowski is 7'1" and 305 pounds from Poland, where he was part of the Polish national team program.

    He received limited playing time last season behind All-American Kelly Olynyk but still averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds.

    With Olynyk now in the NBA, Karnowski will have plenty of opportunities to show the ability that has caused some to compare him to Marc Gasol.

6. Willie Cauley-Stein: Kentucky

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    If this ranking was based on potential, Willie Cauley-Stein would be at the top of the list, and the next guy would be a distant second.

    The rising sophomore at Kentucky has an incredible combination of size, athleticism and footwork that gives him the potential to be a dominant force on both ends of the court.

    The fact that he was a wide receiver on his high school football team gives you an idea of how coordinated and athletic he is.

    Kentucky head coach John Calipari says Cauley-Stein has the potential to be one of the best players he's ever coached, and Wildcats fans are optimistic that ability will be on full display in the 2013-14 season.

5. Kaleb Tarczewski: Arizona

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    Kaleb Tarczewski arrived at Arizona last season as a heralded 5-star recruit who struggled in his first few games as a Wildcat.

    However, once Tarczewski began to adjust to the college game, he quickly began to show why he was such a highly rated high school player.

    At 7'0", 255 pounds, Tarczewski has great hands, solid low post moves and runs the floor well. His ability to finish strong around the rim also makes him a very dangerous weapon on the offensive glass

    Tarczewski averaged only 6.6 points and 6.1 rebounds last season, but he could develop into a double-double performer in 2013-14.

4. A.J. Hammons: Purdue

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    After earning a spot on the Big Ten's All-Freshman team last season, Boilermakers fans are excited to see how A.J. Hammons develops next season.

    The 7'0", 280-pounder from Carmel, Ind., averaged 10.6 points and six rebounds last season and has talked this offseason about getting his body in better shape and working off the extra weight he carried as a freshman.

    He finished last season strong, scoring in double-figures in three of Purdue's final four games.

    The Big Ten projects to be one of the best conferences in the country again in the 2013-14 season, but A.J. Hammons gives Purdue a player other teams will have a tough time stopping.

3. Isaiah Austin: Baylor

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    At 7'1", 220 pounds, Isaiah Austin has the most awkward frame of any of the 7-footers on this list.

    Yet, he is also the most versatile 7-footer on the list.

    Austin averaged 13 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season as a freshman, and it was a surprise to many when he decided to return to school for his sophomore season.

    He needs to become stronger and work on his consistency, but Isaiah Austin has shooting range out to the three-point line, and his size makes him an extremely difficult player to defend.

2. Jordan Bachynski: Arizona State

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    It was a difficult 2012-13 season for the Sun Devils, but you can't blame Jordan Bachynski for his effort.

    Bachynski averaged 9.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and a remarkable 3.4 blocks per game. His 120 blocks last season set a Pac-12 record.

    After spending this offseason with the Canadian Development National Team, the 7'2", 250-pounder should be ready for an outstanding senior season at Arizona State.

    Any 7-footer who has a triple double to his credit in the category of points, rebounds and blocks certainly deserves a place on this list.

1. Alex Kirk: New Mexico

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    Alex Kirk is the traditional, back-to-the-basket big man that you don't see in the college game anymore.

    As a redshirt sophomore, Kirk averaged 12.1 points and 8.1 rebounds last season for the Lobos.

    Although he doesn't run the floor the way NBA scouts desire in a big man, Kirk has great low-post moves, including a hook shot he can execute with either hand.

    There's been speculation about whether or not Kirk will remain at New Mexico or transfer to UCLA to join Steve Alford. One thing is certain—he'll be effective no matter where he plays.