Top 10 Centers in College Hoops

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent INovember 12, 2008

The season is fast approaching. The first games are on Nov. 10, and the BIAH live blog during ESPN's season kickoff is just two weeks away.

We've given you the break out players. We've given you the teams to watch. We've given you more team previews than you could ever care about. So with just a week until actual games are played, we figured the best way to finish up our 2008-2009 season previews would be to give you our Top 10 players at each position. You know how much we love a good Top 10 list here.

A few caveats. First, we're talking about how good these guys are as college players, not how well they project as pros.

Second, while it may be too much power for me, I am making the executive decision on what "position" a player is (and it may not necessarily be what he is listed as on a roster).

Third, I am not putting the freshmen in the list. As much as I've read about these guys and as many YouTube clips as I have watched, I have yet to see many of them play a real game (the all-star games don't count), and I don't think that I could give an accurate assessment until I see them play.

Lastly, I love me a good argument, so if you think someone is too low, too high, or in the wrong position, leave a comment and let me hear about it.

Top 10 Point Guards
Top 10 Two-Guards
Top 10 Small Forwards
Top 10 Power Forwards

Here are the Centers. I completely forgot to put Jon Brockman of Washington into the power forwards list (I probably would have slid him in right behind Patrick Patterson), so I am throwing him into this list because, frankly, there really are not that many true centers in college basketball.

Part of the reason is that there only are so many seven-footers out there. Part of the reason is that if you are that tall, and you have some semblance of skill, NBA teams salivate over your "potential," meaning a lot of these guys leave school early (see Patrick O'Bryant, Spencer Hawes, DeAndre Jordan). 

Best Freshmen

  • BJ Mullens, Ohio State
  • J'Mison Morgan, UCLA
  • Tony Woods, Wake Forest
  • Ty Walker, Wake Forest
  • Tyler Zeller, UNC

Best of the Rest

  • Aron Baynes, Washington State
  • Omar Samhan, St. Mary's
  • Dexter Pittman, Texas
  • Ibrahima Thomas, Oklahoma State
  • Goran Suton, Michigan State

Top 10

10. Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State

Varnado is the best shot blocker in the country. He is only 6'9", but he is very long, very athletic, and has exceptional timing, especially when coming over from help side. Varnado is also a good offensive rebounder, as he loves to go flying in for boards looking to get tip dunks.

He is way too thin (reports have him up to 210 lbs. from 195 lbs.) to be much of a threat offensively, but MSU will need him to be—they lost Jamont Gordon, Charles Rhodes, and Ben Hansbrough.

9. Luke Nevill, Utah

Nevill is a 7'0" Australian import playing for Utah. Sound familiar? Nevill is not quite up to Andrew Bogut's level yet, but he is still a good scorer in the post with a soft touch at the rim.

8. Taj Gibson, USC

Gibson is unique to these top 10 lists in that he actually was less effective as a sophomore than he was as a freshman. But that doesn't change the fact that he is a talented individual.

He is 6'9" and athletic with a solid finesse game in the post. Gibson is also a presence at the rim defensively, blocking 2.6 shots per game.

7. Jordan Hill, Arizona

Hill is one of the best big men in the Pac 10, but is still largely an unknown to most. He averaged 13.2 ppg and 7.9 rpg as a sophomore despite being the only real threat the Wildcats had inside the three-point line.

He will once again be the only inside presence for Arizona, but if he can improve anywhere near as much as he did between his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Hill could end up being a lottery pick.

6. Jerome Jordan, Tulsa

Jordan, a junior, has a ton of potential. He is 7'0", long, and athletic, but at just 235 lbs., he really needs to put on some strength. He is a great defender (3.7 bpg), and he really came on at the end of the season, averaging 16.2 ppg, 12.0 rpg, and 4.8 bpg in his last six contests, which included a 17, nine, and four effort against Memphis.

5. Kevin Rogers, Baylor

Rogers might be the best athlete on this list. He can really get out and run the floor, which is what makes him such a good fit for this Baylor squad. Offensively, he is most effective when he is a finisher, especially at the rim, and he is great in the Bears' pick and roll.

4. Arinze Onuaku, Syracuse

Onuaku was a pleasant surprise for Jim Boeheim. He averaged just 8.4 mpg as a freshman before sitting out the '06-'07 season as a medical red shirt, but was one of the best big men in the Big East last year, averaging 12.7 ppg and 8.1 rpg.

Onuaku is a huge kid (6'9", 260 lbs.) and strong as an ox, which allows him to establish position in the post and on rebounds. He catches everything he gets his mitts on, and has a nice touch around the rim (62 percent from the floor).

3. AJ Ogilvy, Vanderbilt

Ogilvy is a real throwback center. He isn't much of an athlete, but he knows how to establish position in the paint. He has great hands and a great touch around the rim (59 percent from the floor), using a variety of spins, drop-steps, up-and-unders, and jump hooks.

He averaged 17.0 ppg as a freshman, a number which could go up with the Commodores losing Shan Foster to graduation.

2. Jon Brockman, Washington

Brockman is one of the hardest workers in college basketball. He attacks the glass on both ends of the floor, averaging 14.2 boards per 40 minutes, tops in college basketball.

He isn't graceful or elegant, and when he gets the ball on the block, Brockman is going to try and muscle his way through a defender. He gets the many of his points by beating defenders down the floor and finding creases in the defense.

1. Hasheem Thabeet, UConn

If Varnado is the best shot blocker in the country, Thabeet is the most intimidating defensive presence in the country. Standing 7'3", Thabeet averaged 4.5 bpg, and it was that presence protecting the rim that allowed the Huskies to play their style of over-playing, pressure defense in the half court.

While his back to the basket game is still developing, if he improves as much between his sophomore and junior years and his did during the last offseason, a 15-10-5 season is a real possibility.


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