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October 20, 2006

Intriguing group highlights PF rankings

Preseason Top 25
Preseason SF rankings
The College Basketball Wire

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The blurring of positions in college basketball makes it difficult to define a power forward.

Does Louisiana State's Glen Davis fit the bill? What about Florida's Joakim Noah or North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough?

Those three preseason All-American post players could have topped Rivals.com's list of the nation's top 20 power forwards. All three of them may end up playing power forward in the NBA, but we defined them as centers for the purpose of these rankings because each player serves as his team's primary low-post presence.

That leaves us with an intriguing group of power forwards. Our list is dominated by veterans coming back from injuries and underclassmen making the leap to stardom. Nevada's Nick Fazekas and Alabama's Jermareo Davidson are the only seniors in the top 10 who played a full season last year.

This certainly isn't a top-heavy list.

Our No. 1 power forward isn't even the No. 1 option on his team. The third-ranked and fourth-ranked guys didn't average double figures in points or rebounds last year.

But we believe that all of them will deliver performances this season that prove they rank among the nation's best at their position.

Rivals.com 2006-07 Preseason Top Power Forwards
1. Al Horford, Jr., Florida, 6-10, 245
Consider it a testament to the talent level at Florida that the nation's top power forward isn't necessarily the best player on his team. Horford may not have played quite as well as teammate Joakim Noah during the Gators' national championship season, but the son of former NBA player Tito Horford still made a name for himself. Horford earned second-team all-Southeastern Conference honors last year while averaging 11.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. He ranked among the top six rebounders and shot blockers in the SEC last year before making the Final Four all-tournament team. Florida possesses such balance across its lineup that Horford may end up compiling better statistics in the NBA than in college.
2. Nick Fazekas, Sr., Nevada, 6-11, 240
This two-time Western Athletic Conference player of the year is the most proven performer on our list. Fazekas has led the WAC in scoring each of the last two years after averaging 20.7 points per game as a sophomore and 21.8 points per contest as a junior. He also averaged 10.4 rebounds per game last year and led the Wolf Pack in boards each of his last 17 games. His 35-point effort in a victory over Kansas last year proved this mid-major guy isn't merely feasting on inferior opposition. He has led Nevada to the NCAA Tournament each of the last three seasons and played well enough last year to earn third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press. Don't be surprised if he's a first- or second-team selection this season.
3. Josh McRoberts, So., Duke, 6-10, 240
McRoberts averaged 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last year as a complementary player on a team that featured All-Americans J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams. Now that Redick and Williams have left for the NBA, McRoberts will emerge as a go-to player whose statistics should dwarf his freshman-year totals. McRoberts possesses such ideal NBA traits that he probably would have been selected in the lottery if he'd entered the draft each of the last two years. He is the rare big man with outstanding ball-handling and passing skills. Although McRoberts underwent back surgery over the summer, he should be ready for the start of the season. Now that point guard Greg Paulus is out indefinitely with a foot injury, McRoberts may be carrying the Blue Devils on his back for much of the year.
4. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, So., UCLA, 6-7, 224
Mbah a Moute developed into one of the feel-good stories of the Final Four last year with his improbable emergence as one of the nation's top big men. The Cameroon native moved to the United States at the age of 16 and is only now playing his sixth year of organized basketball. That didn't keep him from winning a spot in UCLA's starting lineup as a true freshman. He averaged 9.1 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds per game last year for the NCAA runners-up. He also led the Bruins with 44 steals. He got better as the season wore on and collected 17 points and nine rebounds in an NCAA semifinal victory over LSU.
5. Jermareo Davidson, Sr., Alabama, 6-10, 220
Davidson has started each of Alabama's last 91 games while developing into a much more well-rounded player. He improved his scoring average from 7.6 points per game as a sophomore to 14.3 points per game as a junior. Davidson scored in double figures in each of Alabama's last 20 games. Although he only recently has developed into an outstanding scorer, Davidson was already a great rebounder who pulled down 10 boards at Madison Square Garden in his first collegiate game. He ranked third in the SEC with 8.9 rebounds per game last year while collecting 11 double-doubles.
6. D.J. White, So., Indiana, 6-9, 251
White looked like a budding star two years ago when he earned Rivals.com freshman All-America honors while averaging 13.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. White never got a chance to build on that momentum. He broke his left foot early in his sophomore year and played just five games all season. Now that he has regained his health, White should emerge as one of the Big Ten's top players. His return is bad news for anyone trying to drive into the lane. White set an Indiana freshman record two years ago with 64 blocked shots.
7. Curtis Sumpter, Sr., Villanova, 6-7, 220
Sumpter also is coming back from a major injury after starring two years ago. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a 2005 NCAA Tournament victory over Florida, then re-injured the ligament during a practice session a year ago. He underwent surgery last November and now is ready to lead a Villanova team that lost last year's nucleus to the NBA. Sumpter averaged 15.3 points per game two years ago, and should add some frontcourt muscle to a team that relied on its outstanding guard play last season.
8. Joseph Jones, Jr., Texas A&M, 6-9, 250
Jones helped Texas A&M emerge as one of the surprises of the 2005-06 season by averaging 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game to help the Aggies reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He now is one of four returning starters on a Texas A&M team that looks to do even more damage in March. This third-year starter burst onto the scene as a freshman, averaging 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He improved enough as a sophomore to earn second-team all-Big 12 honors from the media. He will try to take the next step in his development this year by challenging for All-America honors.
9. Brandan Wright, Fr., North Carolina, 609, 205
Rivals.com rated Wright as the No. 3 overall player and the top power forward in the 2006 recruiting class. He led Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy to four consecutive state titles while scoring 2,662 points, pulling down more than 1,200 rebounds and blocking almost 600 shots during his high school career. He was named Tennessee's Division II Mr. Basketball each of his last three years to become the state's first three-time recipient in any division. He averaged 22.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game his senior year.
10. Carl Landry, Sr., Purdue, 6-7, 245
Landry is the third player on this list making a comeback after missing most of the 2005-06 season for health reasons. He led the Boilermakers in scoring with 18.2 points per game and also averaged 7.1 rebounds per game two years ago as a second-team all-Big Ten selection. Landry scored a career-high 35 points against South Alabama last year, but he played in only four other games because of a knee injury. Purdue has lost a total of 40 games the last two seasons, but the return of Landry could help the Boilermakers reassert themselves in the Big Ten.
Best of the rest
11. Juan Palacios, Jr., Louisville, 6-8, 250
12. Richard Hendrix, So., Alabama, 6-8, 265
13. Caleb Green, Sr., Oral Roberts, 6-8, 255
14. Wilson Chandler, So., DePaul, 6-8, 230
15. Jeff Adrien, So., Connecticut, 6-7, 245
16. Charles Rhodes, Jr., Mississippi State, 6-8, 240
17. Mario Boggan, Sr., Oklahoma State, 6-7, 240
18. Rashaun Freeman, Sr., Massachusetts, 6-9, 255
19. Tyrone Nelson, Jr., New Mexico State, 6-9, 210
20. Jeff Pendergraph, So., Arizona State, 6-9, 210



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