Department of Rejections
This is an article from the March 23, 2009 issue
Cole Aldrich, Kansas
Combines stout defense with soft shooting touch—led Big 12 in blocks (2.4 a game), was second in rebounds (10.6) and averaged 14.6 points.
Taj Gibson, USC
Versatile 6'9" junior ranked fifth in the country in blocks (2.8 per game) and led the Trojans in scoring (14.3) and boards (9.4).
Dallas Lauderdale, Ohio State
A physical low-post player, 6'8", 255-pound sophomore also has some hops; he tied for second in the Big Ten in blocks (2.0 per game).
Luke Nevill, Utah
The 7'2" Australia native, who followed countryman Andrew Bogut to Salt Lake City, led Utes in blocks (2.7) and scoring (16.9).
Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State
Nation's top shot blocker, 6'9" junior broke Shaquille O'Neal's 17-year-old SEC record for blocks in a season with 165—and counting.
Hasheem Thabeet, UConn
The 7'3" junior was second in the country with 4.6 blocks a game, and had greatly improved scoring (13.7) and rebounding (10.9).
Amber Bland, North Carolina A&T
Versatile senior led the MEAC in three-point shooting (43.5%), was second on her team in scoring (15.8) and third in rebounds (5.9).
Briann January, Arizona State
Two-time Pac-10 defensive player of the year can light it up as well as lock it down: She hit a conference-best 45.2% from beyond the arc.
Alex Ross, Lehigh
Junior made more than three treys a game, third-best in the country and most of anyone in the tournament.
Kristi Toliver, Maryland
The hero of the Terps' '06 title run is still breaking hearts: On Feb. 2 her last-second three snuffed Florida State 72--71.
Jill Young, South Dakota State
Jackrabbits love to jack it up (8.2 a game), and none more so than this redshirt freshman, who made 2.4 threes a game.
The Finer Points
Brandon Brooks, Alabama State
Senior was SWAC's player of the year after scoring 13.8 points per game and leading the league in assists (6.8).
Darren Collison, UCLA
Slashing 6-foot senior led the Bruins in scoring (14.5 a game), assists (4.9), steals (1.6) and minutes per game (31.5).
Tyreke Evans, Memphis
Tigers freshman is more scorer than distributor, but team has gone undefeated since he moved to the point in December.
Levance Fields, Pitt
Cool-headed 5'10" senior's scoring was down slightly this year (to 10.7 points a game), but he led Big East in assists (7.6).
Ty Lawson, North Carolina
Tar Heels' motor kicked out 6.5 assists a game, and he was an efficient scorer, averaging 15.9 points and 46.7% from arc.
Kalin Lucas, Michigan State
One of the best shoot-first point guards in the country, Big Ten player of the year averaged 14.8 points per game.
Eric Maynor, Virginia Commonwealth
Game-winner knocked Duke out of '07 NCAAs; he was Rams' top scorer (22.4 a game), and his 203 assists were 44.6% of VCU's total.
Isaiah Thomas, Washington
Forget 5'8" freshman's baby face—in addition to 2.5 assists a game, he was Huskies' top scorer, averaging 15.4 points.
Before Heels lost to Florida State in ACC semis without guard Ty Lawson, they had 14 wins in last 15 games.
There's no hotter team right now than the defensively dominant Tigers, winners of 25 straight.
Pac-10 champs fell in conference tournament semis but won eight of nine games to end regular season.
Cards wrapped up Big East regular-season and tournament titles—and a No. 1 seed—with 10--0 run.
Tigers started season 16--0 and 4--0 in ACC but finished at 9--7 in league and ended on 1--4 skid, including one-and-out fall in ACC tournament.
Wildcats were 18--8 a month ago and had recovered from abrupt departure of coach Lute Olson in October, but five losses in last six games doesn't bode well.
Run to Pac-10 tournament final took some sting out of 1--3 finish to regular season that included a 74--64 loss to lowly Stanford.
Solomon Alabi, Florida State
No excuses necessary for this 7'1", Nigerian-born freshman, who led all ACC players with 2.1 blocks per game and chipped in an average of 8.5 points.
Dionte Christmas, Temple
Like old St. Nick, senior guard always delivers: He led the Owls with 19.2 points per game, including 35 in a win over Tennessee.
Chief Kickingstallionsims, Alabama State
The name is what fans remember, but 7-footer's ability to block shots (2.7 a game) is what endears him to Hornets faithful.
Lucas O'Rear, Northern Iowa
First man off the Panthers' bench, 6'6", 255-pound sophomore is also perhaps the most aptly named low-post enforcer in the country.
Larry Sanders, VCU
Hey now! Spidery 6'10" sophomore with a 7'7" wingspan averaged 2.7 blocks per game, but he also runs floor well and ranked second on Rams in scoring (11.3).