Picking the college dream team
How do you build the ultimate college squad? This week we asked four college basketball writers to match wits in our second annual College Dream Team Draft, in which they selected the five players and coach whom they felt would give them the best shot at winning a national championship in 2009-10. (The consensus is that the
The order of selection for '09-10 was as follows: Grant Wahl,
That's how his name will appear on his uniform, though I may drop the y. [For the uninformed, the Gody is Notre Dame power forward
I was going to take Izzo, by the way. That almost makes up for the Jordan pick.
As usual, I didn't want to simply draft five high-scoring All-Stars.
This process was about building a team, and I feel like this team will play well together. Also, several important roles got filled. Cole Aldrich is a unique player who can score, but he may be more important as a rebounder and shot-blocker. Scottie Reynolds is my main deep- threat shooter, but Kalin Lucas, Kyle Singler and Devin Ebanks can do that as well.
There's plenty of defensive quickness on this team, but we also have a high basketball IQ, a willingness to share the ball and a ton of experience. Aldrich, Reynolds, Lucas, Singler and coach Roy Williams have all been in the big games, and their seasoning will have a hugely positive impact on the talented but immature Ebanks. I also like the way Roy Williams's teams play. All but one of my players are tailor-made for Ol' Roy's up-tempo style, and something tells me he'll make sure Aldrich is in the shape of his life to get up and down the court.
Before the season, Sherron Collins
My 3-4-5 players are all good fits: Manny Harris, a steal in the last round, is a great distributor and can run with Wall and Collins; Patrick Patterson is a blue-collar, NBA-quality power forward who'll dominate on the glass and be tough on D; and Jarvis Varnado, despite my fellow draftees' jabs, is the country's best shot-blocker, and won't need to score more than a few points per game. It probably goes without saying, but I love this team.
To be honest, I was drafting from the worst position. It was towards the end of the order, but I never had a chance to draft two players in a row. With those hindrances, my selections were naturally brilliant.
As I said during the chat, I'm the only guy whose team has two front runners for national player of the year. Moreover, I obviously placed a huge emphasis on picking a team that would play well together -- a whole that would exceed the sum of its parts. That's why I took two of the most versatile players in the country in Evan Turner and Tyler Smith. I also took two perimeter players who are legit combo guards; both Thomas and Slaughter can score in huge numbers but also run the point if necessary. And what can you say about The Gody? He deserves to play on a great team once in his life. He and Bill Self are gonna get along great. Self just needs to show Luke where the gym is, and let The Gody take care of the rest.
The ability to have lockdown defenders in both the post and on the perimeter was my guiding light. In UConn point guard Kemba Walker (three steals per game), I have a ballhawk who frustrates even the craftiest scorers in the Big East. In Jamaica-born Jerome Jordan (three blocks per game) I have a seven footer creating a no-fly zone around the rim.
If there are any questions about Jordan's softness, I'm confident Michigan State coach Tom Izzo can have him banging the boards like a Flint-Stone in no time. Transition off of turnovers will drive the offense, and Willie Warren -- he of the 7.5 assists per game thus far -- can bring a dual threat in driving to the cup or pulling up from the outside.
Likewise, understated UNC forward Ed Davis can sprint baseline-to-baseline better than almost any other big man. When I needed a wing, I went for Al-Farouq Aminu. He can glide in with athleticism or step back as a marksman. As far as frontlines go, I may have the greatest cumulative wingspan in the nation, and pit bulls like Walker and Warren can only prosper for an Izzo team.