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True centers are hard to find these days in the NBA and highest reaches of Division 1 ball, so it's no surprise this is a weak position in the A-10. The league has very few players who qualify as true centers. Here are five guys who do their best to be a team anchor for interior defense or post scoring.


1)CJ Aiken, St. Joseph's

Hawks junior is the league's best shotblocker (120 blocks) and he dominates the interior on defense with his quick feet and long arms. On offense, Aiken is more like the team's small forward. He likes to take jumpers and drop an occasional trey (11 ppg, 53% FG, 31% 3PG), pulling other teams' bigmen away from the basket so his teammates can penetrate.


2)Juvonte Reddic, VCU.

The Rams best bigman, Reddic will likely have to defend the post in A-10 play. He's also a good shotblocker (44 blocks) and rebounder (6.7). Reddic, the team's leading returning scorer (10.3 ppg, 51% FG) likes to run the floor on offense and score in transition. He's getting better at scoring inside but is by no means polished.


3)Matt Kavanaugh, Dayton

The Flyers' plodding and cheerfully annoying bigman (9 ppg, 6 rpb, 55% FG) might as well wear a lunch bucket on his head. Kavanaugh's game is all about effort, hustle - and smart positioning. He is not especially athletic and gets his shots blocked a lot, but Kavanaugh persists. He scores a lot on his own followups and actually has soft hands and a nice touch around the basket. He an excellent free-throw shooter at 80%, too.


4)Andrew Smith, Butler.

The 6-11 senior is big and skilled, averaging 10 points and 5 boards a game. Like CJ Aiken he likes to drift outside and pop some treys (35% 3PG) and doesn't dominate on the blocks. Smith generally was not a big scorer against top out-of-conference teams so it remains to be seen how his game translates in the A-10. He scored 4 points last year vs. Louisville, 3 vs Indiana, 8 vs. Xavier, 12 vs. Purdue, 2 vs. Gonzaga and 10 vs. Stanford. The only big school he gave fits was Pittsburgh, when Smith scored 19 in a season-ended loss during the CBI tourney.

Better outside shooting by his teammates would probably help Smith be more effective.


5)Anthony Lee, Temple

Sophomore center is still quite raw offensively (5 ppg, 50% FG), but he's got the makings of a top rebounder (5.3 rpg) and interior defender (38 blocks). Lee is one of the most athletic bigmen in the A-10, long and springy like Aiken but stronger. He won't be counted on for regular scoring but can impact the game in other ways.

Two to watch:

Cady LaLanne

UMass sophomore, a power forward on most teams, is the most skilled young interior player in the league. He's got all kinds of moves and a good touch inside and is hard to keep off the blocks (6-9 250 pounds). If he stays healthy, LaLanne could develop into a star, but probably not until his junior year.

Youssou Ndoye

Bonaventure sophomore will start with Nicholson's graduation. His numbers dont wow (2.6 ppg, 60% FG), but Ndoye is built like a true center (6-11, 240), has good athleticism and does his best work inside. Expect him to slow more offensive prowess in his second year and anchor the Bona defense. He would average 7 boards and 2 blocks a game if his production as a freshman was translated to 30 minutes a game.
 

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I honestly can't complain about this one too much, WH. My only quibble is that you leave Lalanne and Ndoye out of the top 5. I would also consider putting SLU's John Manning on the list. What I would do if I were you is remove Kavanaugh and Smith, and put Lalanne and Ndoye in their places. Remember, this isn't about who the best centers were, it's about who they are. Though all of your analysis' of each player are spot on, I commend you for that.
 

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It's easy to say you should remove Kavs. He's exactly how WH described him but somehow he got the job done last year. After two miserable seasons under BG, he broke out last year. It's hard to find TRUE centers in this league anymore and hard to classify who might be in that category. Kavs almost 10 ppg and 6 rpg is hard to beat, even if he doesn't improve on that at all this year.
 

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Lee put on 20-25 pounds of muscle this summer. He is a tank.
 

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If Ndoye can average 12/7, the Bonnies are going to be in the top third of the conference.
 

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One of the only true centers in the league has never played an A10 game. Martins Abele, at 7-1 295 lbs, is a giant. He has skills and the ability to make post moves but is foul prone and hasn't shown much more than promise at this point. He has 2 years of eligibility left after being deemed academically ineligible last spring.
 

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The kid was at Radford for a reason despite being 7'1. I watched him play several times. His size is his best feature but I honestly don't think he has all that much upside from having watched him. Size is at a premium though and he has plenty of it.

WH, Reddic is a natural 4, although you're right that he ends up playing the 5 for stretches of the game. Our starting center is 7 foot, 250 pounder D.J. Haley. His stamina isn't all that great however (especially with the way we play) so he only played about 15 mpg but starts at center for us. He doubled his minutes from his freshman season and we're hoping to be able to get around 20 mpg from him in this, his junior season.

As a 4, Reddic is very good, but not always mentally checked in. He's freaky talented though with all the tools to play in the NBA one day if he can put it together and picked VCU over offers from schools like Oklahoma, Mississipi, and Maryland as a high school senior. He runs the floor as well as any big in the country and has very nice athleticism to go along with a very nice mid-range game out to 18 feet. The issue with Reddic is keeping his head in the game and not checking out when things don't go his way or he doesn't get enough touches in our offensive sets.

He'll certainly have to step his game up in the A-10 with some of the bigs in this league. Hopefully he rises to the occasion and meets his considerable potential. The truth is that if he had a higher motor, he wouldn't be at VCU. Hopefully the additions of Justin Tuoyo (6'9, 220 shot-blocker from Georgia with offers from Alabama, Florida St., Nortwestern, South Carolina, UVA, and Virginia Tech) and Mo Alie-Cox (6'6, 260 pound jumping jack from the DC area) will allow Reddic more freedom to play both inside and out this year. Those guys are just freshmen though so we'll see how much they'll be able to contribute this year.
 

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Based on what I've seen of Abele over the summer, he is making progress, but I don't think he'll be anywhere near the top 5 in the A-10 by the end of his career. He still has some glaring flaws, but his passing and defense are both getting better. If he can eat 10-15 minutes for Duquesne per game it will be a win. He's still a long way from being an asset.

Of course, if N'doye is deserving of consideration, maybe Abele is as well. Neither one is very good.
 

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Ndoye showed some flashes last year, and will get every opportunity to contribute this year. A year going up against Nicholson in practice was likely invaluable.
 

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I would also consider putting SLU's John Manning on the list.
He's 6'11 and Majerus touted him as a future all-league caliber player, but the reality is that he was a 2-star recruit who practically* didn't play against A10 competition last season.

*4 games, 4 min, 0 FGA, 0 Reb, 0 Blk, 1 foul

He should play a significant role on the 2012-13 Billikens, but you can't call him one of the Best A10 centers until he actually shows what he can do.
 

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Ndoye affected games last year, and got better as the year went on. If he had a good summer, he'll be very good this year. Like lots of young bigs, avoiding foul trouble will be big for him.
 

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Mamadou Datt and Youssou Ndoye had almost identical stats last year. No one is claiming Datt is a top 5 Center or going to be "very good" this year. I like both players and think Ndoye will have the edge ultimately, but I didn't see anything out of Ndoye that makes me think he is ready to come even close to filling the hole Nicholson left. They are both very raw.
 

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I didn't say someone did.
 

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Mamadou Datt and Youssou Ndoye had almost identical stats last year. No one is claiming Datt is a top 5 Center or going to be "very good" this year. I like both players and think Ndoye will have the edge ultimately, but I didn't see anything out of Ndoye that makes me think he is ready to come even close to filling the hole Nicholson left. They are both very raw.
Good thing nobody came close to saying Ndoye would fill the hole Nicholson left, then.
I didn't say someone did.
Then, I wonder why someone mentioned that they didn't see anything out of Ndoye that makes them think he is ready to come even close to filling the hole Nicholson left.

Listen, I think Ndoye will be a nice player, perhaps even a very good one. But, nobody expects him to be the next Professor. And, nobody has said that he would.
 

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Yeah that sentence I posted did not say: I disagree with (said person) who said Ndoye would fill the hole left by Nicholson.
 

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I am really excited for GW newcomer, Kevin Larsen. He's 6'10", 265 and a a true center. I think he might be a liability on defense and rebounding early on - maybe much of the year as a freshman - but I think he'll be one of the top 2 or 3 offensive centers in the league right away. He both score like a 5, but pass like a Euro big man. The speed of the game will be a real adjustment for him, but given the weak 5 spot in the A-10, I expect GW to try to exploit the mismatch every game, really re-making themselves as an inside-out team.
 
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