Remember Dejuan Blair? What a man he was at Pittsburgh. My lasting memory of Blair on the college level – he’s now on the San Antonio Spurs – is the night he dominated Hasheem Thabeet in Storrs, and in the process, nearly ripped Thabeet’s arm off in the process.
Mitch McGary, the Michigan freshman who shattered a backboard in high school, reminds me a bit of Blair. Burly, a menace inside, fearless, and extremely tough. McGary’s profile blew up after he decimated VCU in the 2nd round, scoring 21 points, collected 14 rebounds, and setting a memorable screen. But that was against a team that lacked an inside presence. How would McGary do against Kansas 7-footer Jeff Withey in the Sweet 16?
Elijah Johnson of the Jayhawks sent an early message that they weren’t going to be flattened by any screens. McGary proceeded to have a career night: 12-of-17 shooting, 25 points and 14 rebounds. Withey was probably the 2nd best big man defender in college hoops this year (after Nerlens Noel), and McGary won the head-to-head battle.
McGary isn’t a back-you-down force who is going to Dream Shake anyone or try to get to the line – he’s attempted just six free throws in the tournament – he’s a garbage man and often the recipient of some great interior passing from Burke, Hardaway and even Robinson. (With all three of those guys likely NBA-bound, it’s one reason I wouldn’t be shocked to hear McGary change his mind and So what’s an NBA comparison for the 6-foot-10, 260-pound McGary? I’ve seen Horace Grant, Al Horford and Charles Oakley, among others.
Here’s one, based on a stat from Ken Pomery: DeJuan Blair.