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THE BASKETBALL BRAINE

Columnists | Message Board  | Daily Dribble

By Matthew Braine

Hardtazz1@aol.com

February 21st, 2006

 

Prides of the WAC: Millsap & Fazekas

The Western 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. 

This year 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.

Nevada's 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.

Paul Millsap, 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. 

The 6'8" 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 proficiency.

Millsap has 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.

 

 

 

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