by Jacob Swiger
Here's a novel idea: What if Tyler Hansbrough, the leading scorer in the illustrious history of the ACC, actually succeeds in the NBA?
The bar has been set so low by the countless talking heads on ESPN and also by those who try to diminish the career of one of the ACC's best players of all time by claiming he will fail in the NBA.
At best Hansbrough can come off the bench and provide hustle minutes, so they say.
So what would be considered success? Even Carolina fans would be thankful if he at least contributes to a team so they can dangle it over the heads of their rival Blue Devils.
Critics point to J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison who both have had quiet beginnings to their careers. Still, it's even too early to label both of these college stars as NBA busts. Redick has had a few decent games in the playoffs and Morrison will get a chance with the Lakers next season after struggling with injuries in Charlotte.
Hansbrough has a unique ability to get to the free throw line -- and he can even knock them down at a high rate for a big man, 84.1 percent. Insert Shaq jab here....
The problem is his athleticism. When matched up against freak forwards like Blake Griffin or athletes such as Florida State's front court, Hansbrough's production dropped off significantly.
But not necessarily his defense.
In a league where most teams desperately need a Griffin, I think many could use a Hansbrough to grab a few rebounds and show his durability in an 82-game season.
What then is success for Carolina's most decorated player?
Maybe not putting up 20 points per game as he did in college... but the guy has a feel for the game and has shown the ability to knock down jumpers. I wouldn't put it past him to get his shots off.
If Hansbrough can adapt and score around the rim against longer teams, don't be surprised to see him contributing in a Glen Davis-esque fashion, coming off the bench and providing a lift for a winning team's front line.
Plus, he's played in a system that translates to the NBA -- an up-tempo offense that pushes the ball and values inside-outside play.
He might not ever be an all star ... very few ever achieve that status. But to write this guy off before he has even played a minute in the league is foolish.
Hansbrough's game wasn't supposed to translate to college either. Duke's hyped recruit, Josh McRoberts, was easily thought to be the superior forward prospect.
How did that turn out, again?
Considering Hansbrough most likely will be drafted in the late first round/early second round means he will join a playoff team needing a supporting cast instead of a franchise player. Morrison was pressured to carry the scoring load as a Bobcat and Redick is buried behind talented guards for the Magic.
No. 50 will get a chance somewhere. Are you sure you want to write him off before he even takes a shot?
Most college basketball fans have grown to hate Hansbrough -- for whatever reason -- like his predecessor, Redick. But I've never understood the lack of respect for a guy who did what all college basketball fans secretly want from their teams' star players: He stayed for all four years and was a model student-athlete.
What could be better for the game of college basketball, a game slowly becoming overrun with agents, shoe companies and fraudulent SAT scores?