Outside of Andrew Wiggins, there may not be a more sought-after player in the country right now than Tarik Black.
How do I know that?
Well, on Tuesday night, Duke reportedly put the “full court press” on Black, trying to lure him to spend his final season of eligibility as a Blue Devil. That was followed up by a visit from Kansas head coach Bill Self on Wednesday night. If Duke wants you and Kansas wants you, than it’s safe to say you’re in fairly high demand.
It makes sense, too. Black is a veteran, having played at Memphis for Josh Pastner the past three years. He’s 6-foot-9, 250 pounds and athletic. Most importantly, he’s on track to graduate from Memphis this spring which means that Black will be eligible to play this fall for whichever schools he ends up deciding to transfer to.
Right now, Duke’s big man rotation consists of Josh Hairston, the surgically repaired Marshall Plumlee, and a trio of forwards — Jabari Parker, Alex Murphy, Amile Jefferson — that are more perimeter oriented than bruisers in the paint. There’s not much physicality there, and adding a body like Black certainly seems ideal.
Kansas has Perry Ellis coming back and they bring in freshman Joel Embiid, but there isn’t really all that much quality depth on the Jayhawk front line. They could certainly use a bruiser as well.
But here’s the problem: the idea of Tarik Black works much better in theory than it does on the court.
Black has a ton of potential. He’s been hyped up for the last two seasons. He’s got enough talent that he should have been an all-conference player for the Tigers at least once in his career. And yet, he’s never averaged more than 10.7 points in his three seasons. He’s never grabbed more than 5.0 boards, and that came as a freshman. His production on the glass went down the last two seasons, and it was never that impressive to begin with.
Was that simply a disconnect that he had with Memphis and the coaching staff and the way that he was used? Was he too distracted playing in his hometown?
Or is this simply who Tarik Black is? A big, athletic center that can do little more than be a big, athletic center?
A change of scenery may help, but don’t count on Black being much more than a piece in a rotation wherever he ends up.
But here’s the thing: who couldn’t use a piece like that? Who couldn’t use an athletic, 6-foot-9, 260 lb senior that can step in and play minutes? At the end of the day, Black is big and he’s physical and he’s, quite simply, the best option available for teams that are in need of a big man.
When your next best option is Josh Hairston or Justin Wesley, it’s no wonder that Duke and Kansas, respectively, come calling when a guy like Tarik Black becomes available.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.