Tuesday , Nov , 11 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

It’s Only A Day Away

With the promise of a great college basketball season looming large, (The regular season officially starts Thursday) most still want to dwell on the trials (literally) and tribulations of this past off-season. But, I feel it’s only right to look past all that, and pay homage to the Five players who I undoubtedly think will make the next five months of NCAA hoops unforgettable. Sure Carmelo is gone, and Lebron….well Lebron in a college jersey was just your imagination. But what the world of College Basketball is left with is a cast of young men, ready, willing, and wanting to carry their teams right on their own broad shoulders, and lead their schools deep down the road, all the way through the Madness of March.

So you ask where do I begin. At the top is always a good place! Here sitting atop the mountain we call basketball is UConn’s top dog. Junior center Emeka Okafor, If you don’t know his name by now, just give him a few games. Emeka is the most intimidation shot blocker since Alonzo Mourning (when he played for Georgetown) averaging 4.7 per game as a Sophomore! To compliment his blocking ability he has great hands and catty quickness for his 6’10 252 lbs. frame. Off the court, Okafor boasts as an Honor Student, and member of the Deans List at the University of Connecticut. It looks like all is prime for this Beast of the East to take the #1 preseason ranked Huskies all the way….But more on that later. From East we travel West to one half of last season’s best on-court duo. Oregon may have lost guard Luke Ridnour to the NBA, but his running mate isn’t going anywhere. (Except to the Final Four maybe) Senior, Cool Hand Luke Jackson is ready to carry the load for the Duck’s. And coming off 16 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists a game last year, this talented hometown native is out to prove he can do it all, and do it without friend and ex teammate Ridnour. Look for Jackson and the Oregon Ducks late in March. Coach Roy Williams might have moved around this off-season, but nothing like his North Carolina Point Guard Raymond Felton can move the rock. Felton dropped 6.7 dimes a game last year as a Freshman. (Wow) With fellow playmakers like Sean May, and swingman Rashad McCants to dish the ball to, expect this Tar Heel to make some serious noise, and allow Ole Roy to be the first coach to ever go to two straight Final Fours with two different teams. Roy’s old rivals The University of Missouri may have had one of the most negatively publicized summers of any school in recent memory, but don’t tell Seniors Ricky Paulding, and Author Johnson. Detroit’s dynamitic duo feel like nothing can go wrong for their Tigers. Johnson and Paulding are both preseason First Team all Big 12, (Johnson is the Pre Season Big 12 player of the year.) but that’s just the start. Coach Quin Snyder has brought in one of the best Freshman classes in the country, and returns two fellow Senior starters to compliment his leaders. Author comes off a season where he put up 16 points and 9.5 rebounds, while Ricky managed 17.7 and 5.6 respectably. This might be the best Mizzou team ever assembled, and you can quote me on the following, “the Tigers will cut down the nets as National Champs this year!” (Sorry UConn) So here we go. Five guys, Four teams, only One Champion. (Go Mizzou!)

I can’t wait until Thursday, let the season begin!