‘Bama has a player in Green — but is he Top 6 good?

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If you listed college basketball’s best players for 2011-12 as a starting five, it might look something like this: Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Jordan Taylor, Terrence Jones and Tu Holloway. Maybe Austin Rivers or Robbie Hummel or Draymond Green or Jeremy Lamb might sneak in there. But that’s a damn fine starting five.

But. Would Alabama’s JaMychal Green be your sixth man? He’s Drew Cannon’s. Drew just finished up a ranking of the game’s Top 100 players for Basketball Prospectus.

And he realizes Green might not be a popular choice.

(Then again, John Clay thought Jones was an odd choice, so there’s that.)

The Tide’s 6-8, 228-pound senior put up solid stats last season – 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks – but Cannon says Green’s tempo-free stats are the best way to illustrated just how good he was last year. From his story:

Green was a force last year. No returning high-major player used more of his team’s possessions than he did, but he still shot 51 percent on twos and made 74 percent of his nearly 200 free throws. Green ranks in the top ten returning SEC players (tempo-free) in blocks, steals, and offensive and defensive rebounding. His worst characteristic is either a turnover rate that’s only slightly better than the national average or a tendency to end up in foul trouble. So I say: don’t be fooled by the lack of fanfare. Green was a dominant big man in 2011.

This isn’t meant to belittle Drew. He just completed a massive project with excellent insights, projections and has very little with which to quibble. Questioning Green’s spot is mostly a factor of I’ve never seen him playing like the sixth best player in the nation. Top 15 might be more like it. (Same might go for Khris Middleton.)

‘Bama wasn’t a bad team last season. The Tide went 25-12 and lost to Wichita State in the NIT title game. But it’s not like Green was the lone great player on a decent team. Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford gave Anthony Grant’s squad a solid trio along with a great defense.

Green’s obviously a talented post player and deserving of his All-SEC honors. Alabama was delighted when he decided to return for his senior season and rightfully so. He attacks the glass, helps creates opportunities for teammates and when he stays out of foul trouble is Alabama’s go-to guy, even if he’s never been a very efficient scorer.

But I’m not sure he’s this good given he wasn’t the Tide’s only player last season. In fact, getting the ball to Mitchell a bit more in 2011-12 is a good idea.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.