Foreign Big Men: Does it matter?

Does it matter where our big men were born?

  • Yes - we'd be better off with domestic big men who cold help us now

    Votes: 11 52.4%
  • No - with rare exceptions, big men are always a 'project'

    Votes: 10 47.6%

  • Total voters
    21

SWC75

Bored Historian
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
24,273
Like
43,791
In the last two days, I've twice called into the Orange Nation Radio Show with Steve Intanti and Paulie Scibilia to discuss out problematic big men. It's been a theme of mine that we've recruit a lot of foreign-born big men in recent years and we are always complaining that we are weak in that area. Jim Boeheim has said many times both that big men take longer to develop and that foreign born players also take longer to develop because they didn't grow up playing the game. My point was that having all the big men on your roster born in other countries will tend to mean that you are going to have to wait to see them develop and they may not even peak while they are here. As a contrast, Duke sent in the little-used Mark Williams from Norfolk Virginia and he dominates while our three healthy centers watch from the sidelines, 'developing'.

I had acknowledged that the 7-0 245 Williams was a Macdonald's All-American. Steve and Paulie took that and ran with it, saying that you couldn't expect our guys to be as good.

I called back today to explain that my point was that, not playing the game until recently and grow up in places where their diet might not have the protein in the American diet, our guys had no chance to develop their bodies and skills the way Williams did. We don't know that they might not have been 7-0 245 McDonald's All-Americans had they grown up here. We have to wait 2-3 years to find out.

Earlier I'd called into a post game show that Demetris Nichols was on to make the same point. He said that from his experience the players in Europe do grow up with the game and that a 10 year old European player is probably more skilled than a 10 year old American player. Infanti had been on that show and referred to Nichol's point. The problem with that is that, of our 5 big men, (Dolezaj, Sidibe, Edwards, Ajak and Anselem), three of them are African and of the two Europeans, one of them, Edwards, only took up the game as a teenager after seeing LeBron James videos on You-Tube.

Scibilia was dismissive of my theory that we need to focus on domestic big men so they might be able to help us immediately. "It doesn't matter where they come from. The guys we have were just recruiting 'misses', that's all". The fact is, we don't know if they were recruiting 'misses', (certainly Marek wasn't), and we won't find out for another year or two. Pauley said that "Rony Seikaly and Fab Melo were pretty good!" The fact is, Rony Seikaly and Fab Melo were both pretty bad when they got here. Fortunately they got good. Baye Keita was pretty good Chinoso Oboko was not.

I've been looking a the basketball recruiting page and reading about Riley Mulvey, Elijah Everett, Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, Donovan Clingen, Enoch Boakye and Tichyque Musaka. The first four are all domestic. Boakye is from Canada, which really isn't different in this regard form the US. All weigh at least 225 pounds except for Musaka who is from the Congo and who we apparently haven't offered a scholarship yet. This suggests that Jim Boeheim and his staff may be thinking the same way I am. of course maybe we have just been settling for foreign-born big men because we keep losing the battle to get domestic big men like Thomas Bryant and Isaiah Stewart, etc. Maybe we'll fail to get these guys too and wind up offering Musaka or someone like him.

I thought I'd run a poll and see if the board thinks it matters where our big men come from.
 

cliftonparksufan

Iggy Award Czar/Co 2020-21 Iggy Award Winner PPG
Joined
Aug 14, 2011
Messages
12,386
Like
18,887
The problem we are not the favorite for any of the big men you listed.
Talented big men are in huge demand for all of the reasons listed above. No sense dwelling on our recent history but we just need that one guy. Hopefully we will get one that wants to anchor the zone.
 

SWC75

Bored Historian
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
24,273
Like
43,791
So far: two likes but 4 votes the other way. :confused::cool:
 

chugg21

Gritty, High IQ, Scrappy, Gym Rat, Lunch Pail Guy
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Messages
5,986
Like
9,280
I've been complaining about this for a bit. Basically non-stop (obokoh, chukwu, sidibe, jba, frank) African centers at this point and the position has been a giant negative every season they have been relied on except maybe Chukwu's last year. 2 others that have gotten minutes are beanpole Europeans as well.
 
Last edited:

Cuse826

Walk On
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
50
Like
114
Nichols isn't saying anything new about European players that hasn't been said before. There's a big difference in how the game is taught at the grassroots level. The culture is different. It's the reason you see guys like Jokic dribble, distribute and able to shoot. Two things every basketball player should be able to do regardless of size is handle the ball (not Kyrie level) and shoot from 15-18 feet.
 

OrangeTarheel

Consider adopting a dome dog
Joined
Aug 31, 2011
Messages
3,178
Like
3,713
I’ll take;
“(c) Recruit centers who weigh more than 195 lbs”, Alex.
This. We need beef and we recruit chicken. Why wouldn’t physical size be a prerequisite of recruiting someone? Maybe JB needs one of those indicators they have at amusement park rides “You must be this tall and weigh this much to play center at Syracuse”
 

Cuse12

Starter
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
1,190
Like
2,106
It really comes down to this - we need centers that enter the program north of 230lbs. Which isn’t even “big” when you are 6’10” + , that’s just normal weight compared to their respective heights. Does it seem more big men domestically are larger? Yes. Can’t wait for our next beanpole center commit!!!
 

Bball44

Walk On
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
227
Like
492
I've been complaining about this for a bit. Basically non-stop (obokoh, chukwu, sidibe, jba, frank) African centers at this point and the position has been a giant negative every season they have been relied on except maybe Chukwu's last year. 2 others that have gotten minutes are beanpole Europeans as well.
Chukwu's serious eve injury prevented his career from being a giant postive.
 

chugg21

Gritty, High IQ, Scrappy, Gym Rat, Lunch Pail Guy
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Messages
5,986
Like
9,280
Chukwu's serious eve injury prevented his career from being a giant postive.
Who knows. An argument can be made that we had about a half season of Taurean Thompson in the middle and that was probably more enticing than all of the rest combined.
 

721Comstock

2019-20 Iggy Co-Winner Leading Rebounder
Joined
Sep 1, 2015
Messages
12,325
Like
45,753
Who knows. An argument can be made that we had about a half season of Taurean Thompson in the middle and that was probably more infuriating than all of the rest combined.

FIFY.

TT could score.
But he also was the worst matador in the middle of the D we’ve ever had.

As I’ve posted before, TT’s attitude about defense was -
It’s what the other 4 guys do, while he waits to get the ball back on O.
 

MSOrange

2020 Cali Award Winner, Regular Season Record
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
20,803
Like
46,965
FIFY.

TT could score.
But he also was the worst matador in the middle of the D we’ve ever had.

As I’ve posted before, TT’s attitude about defense was -
It’s what the other 4 guys do, while he waits to get the ball back on O.

Yes I hate to call out a guy's effort from watching on tv, but when it's as obvious as TT made it with his defense, it's hard not to.
 

Red Holzman

Scout Team
Joined
Mar 26, 2019
Messages
480
Like
1,190
Won NC with Forth and McNeil -not stars but big guys that generally held their own.
We need starting/backup competent CENTERS -
Don't need to be 5*-
At least recruit an enforcer that grabs rebounds, and doesn't get knocked around while allowing big centers >200lb to run wild for career highs.
I want to see our guy manhandling their guy for a change.
 

chugg21

Gritty, High IQ, Scrappy, Gym Rat, Lunch Pail Guy
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Messages
5,986
Like
9,280
FIFY.

TT could score.
But he also was the worst matador in the middle of the D we’ve ever had.

As I’ve posted before, TT’s attitude about defense was -
It’s what the other 4 guys do, while he waits to get the ball back on O.
Hahaha. Tough decision to make here. We have a guy that was abysmal on Def but may score 15 pts in 20 mins. Then we have most of the others who are abysmal on Off but can play solid def. It's truly shocking that he was frequently putting up double digit points in under 20mpg in the ACC as a true freshman and then never started a single game anywhere the last 4 years. Has there ever been a worse decision made by a player/family?
 

Jeremy L.

2018 Iggy Regular Season Record Winner
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
Messages
2,035
Like
3,958
We either need an athletic big man that can be a force inside on offense and aggressive on defense, or we need a big that can stretch the floor and play from outside. There's no in between IMO
 

SWC75

Bored Historian
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
24,273
Like
43,791
Taureen Thompson was so smooth moving through the paint to score that you wondered how anyone could stop him. For most of his one year here, he didn't bother to play defense but he seemed to be coming around in the late going. His fouls went down and most fouls are committed by defenders who have allowed their man to beat them and they are reaching to make up for it. Then, in that last game against Mississippi, he ahd 5 steals. Somebody posted that he thought those steals "were just a case of being in the right place in the right time". I responded by saying "You just described defense".

I had high hopes for him but he didn't show the next year and then enrolled at Seton hall, where he fell off a cliff in terms of production and playing time. I just googled him and he played 2 minutes for Detroit this year and that was his only stat.
Taurean Thompson Stats | ESPN
 

RF2044

Living Legend
Joined
Aug 15, 2011
Messages
24,794
Like
65,683
I don't think that "Foreign" or "domestic" matters much. Maybe with initial readiness, but otherwise -- I think it comes down to three factors:
  • Physical tools -- does the prospect have the right athletic attributes / tools to excel at the P5 level?
  • Upside -- most incoming frosh bigs aren't ready for prime time, so how does their developmental curve project? Is the prospect raw with potential, or primarily maxed out? A prospect isn't going to be able to improve their athleticism / mobility, for example, but they can potentially add weight / strength.
  • Utilization -- how is the prospect utilized by our coaching staff? If they never get the ball, then it is tough to criticize their inside scoring, for example.

Ultimately, it seems like our recruiting is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we recruit guys with the intent to have them just be pogo sticks who block shots, but don't rebound or do much offensively, then you reap what you sow. Loved Chukwu, for example, but he just didn't have the frame to add weight / strength, so his upside was limited -- even though he was pretty good at a few things [shot blocking, rebounding] in our system.

But some of the guys we bring in -- Arinze, Rick, Rak, to name a few -- are capable of a lot more. But it is tough to actualize their potential if they don't get the ball, and are just asked to block shots. I think this was primarily what we saw with Fab and Watkins -- guys who had terrific physical tools, but never turned into consistent scorers, and seemed uncomfortable playing with their backs to the basket. It was particularly criminal with Watkins, IMO, who had the body / athleticism [but not the game] to be a 10+ year NBA player.

Would love to have an actual big man coach, and more concerted effort on developing their skills. Every other team seems to have functional big men who perform -- this isn't just on the recruits themselves. And sure, some guys we've recruited were projects who didn't develop. But we have such a low rate of them hitting, that I think it is more coaching / utilization driven than anything else.
 
Last edited:

miamicuse

Scout Team
Joined
Mar 21, 2019
Messages
480
Like
969
I had high hopes for him but he didn't show the next year and then enrolled at Seton hall, where he fell off a cliff in terms of production and playing time. I just googled him and he played 2 minutes for Detroit this year and that was his only stat.
Taurean Thompson Stats | ESPN

But in 2019-2020 season his overall FG% was 100%!!lol
 

Online statistics

Members online
232
Guests online
974
Total visitors
1,206

Top Bottom