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June 22, 2009
Whose star will shine brightest in 2009-10?
We're four days from the NBA draft, when pro teams decide - or at least try to decide - the best fit for their teams. Every team obviously wants to draft a star.
While the NBA teams finish up their last-minute draft preparations, we asked basketball writers Jason King and Mike Huguenin for their opinion on who will be the biggest star in college basketball next season.
King goes with a youngster, while Huguenin picked a veteran.
Kansas center Cole Aldrich will be one of the best big men in the nation. He'll be on one of the best teams in the nation. And he'll average a double-double - somewhere in the neighborhood of 19 points and 11 rebounds per game. Add all that up, and you have the right mix for a player of the year.
Aldrich will share the spotlight with Jayhawks point guard Sherron Collins, and - truth be told - Aldrich's "candidacy" will depend in large part upon how frequently Collins gets him the ball in scoring position. It will be often.
Collins also will be a candidate for player of the year honors. But there are going to be a ton of good guards on good teams next season. Aldrich will be one of a handful of big men who's a true star, and he will stand out a bit more than the others for the simple reason that his team will be perhaps the best in the nation.
Kansas will be deep and talented next season, but Aldrich and Collins will be the standouts. They need the other to be productive. If Aldrich is dominating in the low post, Collins is going to get open looks on the perimeter. And if Collins is wheeling and dealing on the perimeter, Aldrich is going to be unencumbered in the paint. He'll be unencumbered enough to take home national player of the year honors.
Don't be surprised if Kentucky guard John Wall becomes the third freshman in four years to take home national player of the year honors. Kevin Durant did it in 2007 and Michael Beasley – at least according to some media outlets – accomplished the feat in 2008.
Wall will enter what should be his only season at Kentucky just as highly touted as his aforementioned predecessors, who each were selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft after spending just one year as collegians.
A 6-foot-4 point guard, Wall may accomplish even bigger things, as he's already being projected as the top pick in the 2010 draft. He'll also be playing on a team that has a realistic shot at winning the NCAA championship. Wall's speed and athleticism should instantly make him one of the most exciting players in the college game, and you can bet he'll have plenty of chances to showcase his talents in John Calipari's dribble-drive offense.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.