March 16, 2007

The Breakdown: 2008 Centers

The center position in 2008 is led by athletic big man B.J. Mullens, whose game is beginning to move out of the realm potential player and into the realm of productive player. As with Mullens, most big men take time to develop and many of these top centers in the country are expected to make big strides in their games this summer.

Breaking down the five-stars

No. 1 center B.J. Mullens has all the physical tools to be a high draft pick one day. Mullens, 7-foot, 260-pounds has nibble footwork, can get off the floor and can shoot with range. He will further hone his skills at Ohio State as part of what is shaping up to be the top 2008 recruiting class.

No. 2 center Ty Walker is coming off a state championship season at Wilmington (N.C.) New Hanover High. The slender, near 7-footer is oozing with potential. He has a feel for blocking shots and his offensive game is developing.

Coach Rick Pitino is hoping No. 3 center Jeff Withey can come into Louisville and anchor the paint for him. Not only is Withey effective around the basket, but the 7-footer is also an outside threat with his shooting and passing ability.

Rising up?

Not only might Beas Hamga of Decatur (Ill.) Christian High School move up the rankings this summer, but the 7-foot center might actually move up into the class of 2007 and suit up for Iowa next year if he can qualify academically in time. Very athletic for his size, Hamga is a shot blocking force and can score with a jump hook.

J'Mison Morgan is a big bodied low post who also has immense potential if he keeps his weight down. Morgan, who has good hands and a soft touch, will be the focus of both college coaches and scouts on the travel circuit.

Don't forget about us

Formally of the St. Louis Eagles travel squad, Brett Thompson will break away from four-star center John Brandenburg and man the middle for the Illinois Warriors. Although Thompson is not the most athletic big man, he is a cerebral player with an advanced skill set. High-majors will be tracking him very closely.

Ralph Sampson III comes from strong bloodlines and is coming off a productive high school season. He struggled last summer at the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp, but has shown improvement since and the light might just be coming on for the big fella. How he fares on the travel circuit will indicate how far he has come.

Corin Moore made some noise last summer playing for the Double Pump All-Stars on the 17-under circuit, but lacked the physical strength and confidence to make a big impact. This summer could be different for Moore. A number of schools will decide in April whether or not to offer the developing post player.

Accounted for

No. 1 B.J. Mullens - Ohio State
No. 3 Jeff Withey - Louisville
No. 4 Beas Hamga - Iowa
No. 8 Andy Poling - Gonzaga
No. 15 James Tyler - LSU
No. 16 Jared Berggren - Wisconsin

Odds & Ends

- There are three five-star centers and nine four-star centers in the Rivals150 for the class of 2008.

- 13 states are represented in the center rankings with North Carolina (3) and Ohio (2) as the only states with more than one representative.


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