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Top Centers for 2010-11: Purdue's Johnson Eyes Title Shot

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.



TOP GUARDS
TOP FORWARDS
TOP CENTERS



CENTERS

1. JaJuan Johnson, Purdue

The Boilermakers are legitimate title contenders this season, and Johnson's development as a big man could be what takes them to that elite level. He posted career highs of 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per contest as a junior last season. He'll also benefit from opponents focusing on E'Twaun Moore, though losing Robbie Hummel to a torn ACL again certainly hurts. Still, if he can add a few pounds and improve his shot selection, Johnson has the chance to be among the best players in the land.

2. Trey Thompkins, South Carolina

Thompkins has some major inside-out game, with the ability to create his own shot and also score down low with his back to the basket. He is a scorer at heart. He shot 37.7 percent from three-point land last season en route to 17.7 points per game. However, he still took care of the other stats with 8.3 boards, 1.9 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per contest. His true value, though, comes from his ability to put the ball in the basket, and as he continues to improve his shot selection, his potential is unlimited due to his impressive skill set.

3. Derrick Williams, Arizona

Williams arrived as a freshman last season to the tune of 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, including a 57.4 field goal percentage. Senior leader Nic Wise is gone, confirming Williams' ascension as the go-to guy for the Wildcats even more. He needs to improve his shot-blocking, but otherwise has nearly unlimited potential.

4. Alex Oriakhi, Connecticut

Oriakhi will go from freshman afterthought to the rock of the UCONN frontcourt with the graduation of Gavin Edwards and Stanley Robinson now in the NBA. The 6foot-9 bull averaged 6.6 rebounds in just 24.6 minutes per game last year, along with 1.6 blocks in that limited time. His offensive game is raw, and he must limit his fouls and stay on the court. That said, Oriakhi can rebound with the best of them and should see some easy scoring opportunities from stud point guard Kemba Walker.

5. Jordan Williams, Maryland

Jordan seemed to get better as his freshman season progressed, posting double-doubles in five of his last 10 games for the Terps last year. With Greivis Vasquez in the League, Williams will become the focal point of the Maryland offense. He was no slouch last year, managing 9.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per tilt. Some growing pains should be expected as Williams adjusts to his featured role, but all signs point to a standout sophomore campaign for the 6-10, 260-pounder.

6. Enes Kanter, Kentucky
If eligible, Kanter could be the most talented of Kentucky's incoming freshman. He plays a mature, physical game, taking what the defense gives him while positioning himself well to score on a variety of post moves. At 6-10, 260, he dominates down low but also has a solid jumper. His skill level is well beyond that of a 19-year-old, and though he's not going to jump out of the gym, he can also make some athletic plays around the bucket. All in all, Kanter's calm, cool, collected presence should pay huge dividends for the Wildcats and Coach Calipari, who tired of Demarcus Cousins' less-than-quiet demeanor as the season wore on.

7. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

Sullinger is likely a one-and-done player in the mold of Greg Oden for the Buckeyes, but they'll gladly take his services this season. Probably an NBA power forward, Sullinger will likely see time at center for OSU due to his physicality, vast array of post moves and touch around the basket. He's not the most athletic big man, but makes up for it in the ability to get his own shot and impose his will on opposing players. Sullinger should have his way with most bigs in the Big Ten this season.

8. John Henson, UNC

Henson is still incredibly thin for 6-10, but is a gifted shot-blocker who averaged 1.6 swats in just 15.8 minutes per contest last season. With Deon Thompson graduated and the Wear brothers transferred out, Henson steps into the forefront of the North Carolina frontcourt. He also managed 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in his limited minutes last season. Henson gets the nod over 7-0 Tyler Zeller due to his length and athleticism, but the pair could form a potent tandem in the ACC.

9. Aaric Murray, LaSalle

The best center that nobody knows about? As a freshman, Murray averaged 12.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 swats per contest for the Explorers. He is more of a finesse player than a banger and is an excellent shooter, including hitting 36 percent of his 86 three-point attempts. Murray can put the ball on the floor and has the potential to get bigger and stronger. His length makes him a good shot blocker, but he should rebound better as he adds muscle to his frame. Some question his dedication, but so far, the stats speak for themselves.

10. Mike Tisdale, Illinois

If nothing else, Tisdale is consistent. He averaged 11.9 points and six rebounds per contest in last season, while also blocking 1.6 shots per game. At 7-1, 235, he isn't the strongest guy, but shoots a high percentage (58.5% last season) and can hit his free throws (83.9%). He probably has the least upside of all the players on this list, but you can count on Tisdale night in and night out to produce.

11. Robert Sacre, Gonzaga
10.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg
12. Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
9.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg
13. Fabricio Melo, Syracuse
High School
14. Adreian Payne, Michigan State
High School
15. Joshua Smith, UCLA
High School