Last season RivalsHoops.com selected Jason Fraser, the outstanding center from Amityville as its preseason player of the year. Fraser developed into one of the country's top players for Jack Agostino's Amityville program and led them to three straight trips to the New York State finals.
Fraser is a winner, a player never concerned with how many points he scored or how many rebounds he grabbed. He is a player who only wanted to help his team win. Fraser now has settled in at Villanova where we expect him to have a great career in Jay Wright's program before he plays in the League.
This season the choice was easier than expected. We chose this year's Rivals preseason player of the year much like we chose last season's. The opinions of Brian Towey, Denny Conroy, Tim Watts, Russ Blake and Mike Sullivan were all considered. And Rivals is proud to announce that Luol Deng (above right), the talented 6-8 multi-dimensional player from Blair Academy in New Jersey is our selection for the 2002-2003 season.
There have been many detailed articles written about Deng, who has given a verbal commitment to the Duke program. And we can agree with the many positive words that have been written about this young man.
What RivalsHoops.com loves about Luol Deng is that he hasn't been "Americanized" nor has he been influenced by today's 24-hour TV sports coverage. We all see the highlights each week regarding the game of basketball. We see the incredible dunks or earth-shattering blocks. But in between those dunks and blocks, Luol Deng's game thrives at a very high level.
Deng receives as much joy breaking a defense down and finding an open teammate for a basket. Luol loves the opportunity to grab a rebound and throw a great outlet pass to his guard for a transition bucket. He helps his teammates on the court with his floor game. Luol will extend as much energy working the parts of the game that don't show up in the boxscore as he does on scoring and rebounding.
Deng is a team player first. What he does best is understand that his teammates are there to help him and his team. Deng would rather have his team score the points than drop 50 in a game.
Deng is likely to see some point guard play because he does carry this great aspect in his individual game. Luol can elevate a team on his shoulders and he doesn't have to score everytime to do this. This makes Luol especially dangerous. He rarely forces a bad shot. While other great players might feel the pressure to overcompensate for his teammates' weakness by overshooting, Deng has the court smarts to play into his teammates' strength.
Luol Deng has everything a coach wants in a recruit. He has great motivation and desire, a heart of gold, a wonderful personality, and is a very good student. On top of that, he's a great player. It's why Luol Deng is our choice for preseason player of the year.