Athletic Conference has provided us with several individual gems
throughout the years. Tim Hardaway, Danny Ainge, Keith Van Horn, and
Andre Miller are just a few names that come to mind. This year there are
two players, both unique, showcasing their dominance as they prepare
themselves to become NBA impact players.
Nevada junior, Nick Fazekas has firmly
impacted his squad, leading his team to a 20-5 (9-3) record and first
place in the WAC. Colorado's 2002-03 Mr. Basketball is coming off a
sophomore year in which he was named the WAC player of the year along with
being named an Honorable-Mention All-American by Sports Illustrated.
Fazekas is on his way to similar accolades, averaging 21.3 points per game
(1st in conference) and 9.7 rebounds (2nd in conference). To describe the
6'11" power forward as versatile would be an understatement. He has the
ability to do just about anything on the floor. Comparable to Dirk
Nowitzki and Vladimir Radmanovic, Fazekas has the tools to work the post
but his true strength lies in his jumper. His .525% field goal percentage
is evident of his high shooting range and scoring outside has become
routine for Fazekas, who has hit over 75 three pointers in his career.
Although he lacks NBA type strength and needs to work on passing out of
the post, his other skills more than make up for it.
fifth all-time scorer has his team primed for a strong NCAA tournament run
and is in the running for POY honors once again. However, in order to
take the trophy home for a second year in a row he'll have to take away
from another WAC standout.
Louisiana Tech's beast under the basket,
has made a name for himself by being one of the most tenacious rebounders
that college basketball has ever seen. Millsap has won the rebounding
title the last two years, one of only five players to earn that honor.
The last person to do so was American University's Kermit Washington back
in the 72', 73' seasons. This season Millsap leads the nation in
rebounding at 13.0 pg, putting him in line to become the first player to
three-peat in rebounding titles.
power forward plays more like a center and is considered undersized by
most draft experts, but tell that to three time defensive player of the
year Ben Wallace. Wallace went undrafted out of Division II Virginia
Union and has emerged as one of the top defensive stoppers in the league.
Millsap has earned his keep as Wallace has, by blocking shots (2.3pg),
grinding it out in the paint, fighting for every shot, and creating an
overall presence that no player wants to contend with.
There is no
disputing that Louisiana's Mr. Basketball (02-03) is a hustler on the
glass, but what separates him from being labeled a defensive specialist is
his scoring ability. Millsap's average of 19.9 ppg is good enough for
second in the WAC behind Fazekas and his .562% from the field proves his
taken his team to a 17-10 (9-4) record, good enough for second in the WAC.
However, it hasn't been easy. Unlike Fazekas who has some supporting cast
in Marcelus Kemp and Mo Charlo, Millsap is carrying his team. The second
leading scorer on Louisiana Tech is averaging 7.7ppg while the number two
rebounder is only grabbing 3.8 pg. Needless to say, Millsap's leadership
is palpable. Perhaps this is why Millsap was named to
www.SI.com's NCAA Basketball Mid-Season All-American Team.
While both players are looking to make an impact in the post-season, their
futures go beyond that. Millsap is projected to be drafted 18th overall
in CHNís current mock draft while
Fazekas is positioned at 29.
These two former Mr. Basketball's have been named WAC player of the week
three times each this season and both major in General Studies. Other
than that, their knack for getting the ball is the only thing that makes
them alike. Despite their differences, they've both managed to lead their
teams with a great amount of zeal and are poised for competition. There
is no doubt that these promising athletes will make their presence known
emphatically in the future.