Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Blogger's Picks for MAAC's All-Time Best Centers
Here's the last in the series about the MAAC's best men's players, by position.
Up now, in alphabetical order ...
- DENG GAI, 6-foot-9, Fairfield (2001-02 through 2004-05): Well-above average career totals of 1,268 points and 699 rebounds, but his greatest attribute was an ability to block shots the likes of which the MAAC had never seen before or since. Ask Siena, from a late 2004-05 season game, about that. All Gai did against the Saints that night was block 13 shots, becoming one of just 17 players in NCAA history to block at least 13 in a single contest. His career was similarly impressive. The only conference player to be named Defensive Player of the Year three times, his 442 career blocks is 10th in NCAA Division I history. Had he not missed 14 games as a junior, and figuring in just his career per-game average, he'd have finished No. 3 all time. As a senior his 5.5 blocks per game led the country and was the sixth-best single-season average in college history.
- LEE MATTHEWS, 6-foot-7, Siena (1989-90 through 1992-93): A hard-working big man who improved his game annually, went from a role-playing freshman to one of just eight players in MAAC history with more than 1,000 points (1,365) and rebounds (1,037). He remains Siena's second all-time rebound leader (behind Ryan Rossiter) and is No. 14 all-time in that category in league history. He used athleticism and an above-average leaping ability to average 1.47 blocks per game, 24th-best all-time in the conference. His teams never won fewer than 16 games, and won 25 games and the regular-season MAAC crown in his sophomore year.
- MICHAEL MEEKS, 6-foot-9, Canisius, (1992-93 throughh 1995-96): A key member of the teams that compiled the best three-year overall record (62-32 in his last three seasons) since Canisius joined the MAAC in 1989. The 1995-96 team advanced to the NCAA, and his teams the previous two seasons went to the NIT. He is the only player in Canisius history to amass career totals of more than 1,000 points (1,827), 800 rebounds (838), 150 blocks and 100 steals. His point and rebound totals rank 20th and 17th all-time in conference history. After college he played in the 2000 Olympics for Canada and averaged 14.3 points in seven games. He also played 15 professional seasons overseas.
- DARREN PHILLIP, 6-foot-7, Fairfield (1996=97 through 1999-2000): One of the top rebounders in MAAC history, and the first conference player to lead the country in that statistic, averaging 14.0 in the 1999-2000 season, the highest single-year total in league history. Only Anosike has also been a top rebounder nationally. Phillip's per-game average that year has only been surpassed by Blake Griffin and Kenneth Farried, both NBA players, since then. He scored 1,218 points and had 868 rebounds (15th-best in MAAC history) over his career, and missed 21 games over his first two seasons due to an NCAA ruling that left him half-a-high-school-credit short of qualifying. Had he reached his career rebound average in those missed games, he'd be fifth on the league's rebound list. Still playing professionally overseas last season.
- RYAN ROSSITER, 6-foot-9, Siena (2007-08 through 2010-11) After barely playing as a freshman (66 points, 97 rebounds total), he worked tirelessly to add weight and strength to his frame and turned in arguably the best single season by a big man in Siena history as a senior, averaging 18.7 points and 13.2 rebounds. His rebound average in 2010-11 was second nationally, surpassed only by current NBA player Kenneth Farried. Rossiter had 25 double-doubles that season, also the second-highest total nationally. Finished his career as one of just eight MAAC players with career totals of over 1,000 points (1,457) and rebounds (1,151). His rebound total is third-highest in league history. Generally considered the best big man in Siena's Division I era.
JASON THOMPSON, 6-foot-11, Rider (2004-05 through 2007-08): Almost assuredly would have played at a higher level had he not been a 6-foot-7 small forward coming out of high school. But, early in his career with the Broncs, he sprouted to 6-foot-11 and became arguably the league's all-time best "big man." He finished with 2,040 career points (9th best in MAAC history) and 1,171 rebounds (2nd best), and is one of just three players in conference history with more than 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds. His ability made him the 12th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings. He has averaged 10.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in his three professional seasons and recently signed a new five-year deal with the Kings worth $30 million.