The Great Tyler Hansbrough debate

06.23.09 8 years ago 35 Comments
Tyler Hansbrough (UNC)

Tyler Hansbrough (UNC)

No player has spent more time in more mock draft positions than Tyler Hansbrough. From his freshman All-American debut at UNC to now, following his national title senior season, Hansbrough has been projected to go in the second round, late-first, mid-first, and late-Lottery. Now may be knocking on the Top-10, as today he’s working out for the New Jersey Nets, who have the 11th pick.

Hansbrough’s NBA potential has always been a polarizing topic. Some think he can be an All-Star, while others think he’ll be out of the League in four years. A couple days before he officially gets started either living up to expectations of failing to meet them, two of our writers look at both sides of the Psycho T debate…

by Austin Burton

Pretend for a second that Tyler Hansbrough wasn’t White. Change the name from “Tyler Hansbrough” to “Tyrone Harris,” then attach this resume: Four-year starter for the most loaded program in the country; four-time All-American; heart and soul of a national championship team as a senior; consensus national Player of the Year as a junior; career averages of 20.2 points and 8.6 boards in the ACC. Are we even having this argument then?

But because people can’t look at Hansbrough — with his 1,000-yard stare and overall Hoosiers aesthetic — without seeing replays of Mark Madsen and Todd Fuller and Eric Montross, it’s just safer to predict that Psycho T will be a bust in the NBA.

Drafting a non-athletic big White kid is the NBA’s version of an office manager hiring a dude with a criminal record: It’s not always a recipe for disaster, and a lot of ex-cons will prove your preconceived notions wrong, but because of history and public perception and the high “I told you so” potential if things don’t work out, no one wants to take that chance.

Never mind that we had this exact same debate with Kevin Love last year, and all he did was finish 9th in the League in rebounding as a rookie and become a walking double-double in Minnesota. Never mind that Hansbrough’s skill set — decent enough jumper, ability to score inside and get to the line, a passion and an acumen for rebounding, never-ending motor and a high basketball IQ — lends itself to success on the pro level.

The NBA Draft is littered with so many superstar college PF’s who didn’t turn into stars in the League, but none of them had to overcome the automatic scrutiny that Hansbrough walks in with. Is Hansbrough any more limited than #13 pick Corliss Williamson was coming out of Arkansas? Is he any less athletic than #19 pick Zach Randolph was coming out of Michigan State? Is he really worse than Paul Millsap, Big Baby Davis or Carl Landry all second-round picks who are either starters or vital contributors for playoff teams?

So what’s the difference? It’s as simple and stupid as Black and White.

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Tyler Hansbrough (UNC)

Tyler Hansbrough (UNC)

by Aron Phillips

I don’t want to take anything away from the absolute dominance that Tyler Hansbrough imposed on the ACC for the past four years. When the dust settles, Psycho T’s career will be looked at as one of the best in all of college basketball. Throw in winning a national championship in his last collegiate game and the guy’s resume is simply remarkable.

But at the next level, Tyler Hansbrough will be just another dude on a roster. At 6-9 and 250 pounds, Hansbrough is either a small forward without handles or an undersized power forward that will be taken advantage of on the block. While the comparison to Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen is too easy to make, I see Tyler more like a Drew Gooden or Reggie Evans at the next level.

Gooden, too, was a big-time college player and a Lottery pick, but these days is simply a serviceable pro. He’ll come off the bench, have big games every now and then, but at the end of the day his biggest asset are his six fouls to give. He’s already been on multiple teams and was even bought out by the Bulls earlier this season before being picked up by the Spurs. If you don’t remember, Evans was an animal in college once he transferred to Iowa, leading the nation in double-doubles. Like him, Hansbrough will enter the game to play hard-nosed defense and grab as many boards as possible in his limited minutes.

Will he have a decent NBA career? Probably. But will it be a career befitting one of the best college basketball players of all-time?

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