Dudley, 10 others like him could star in 2006-07
OK, quick. Name the All-American who loves to play down low, but also can slice his way to the basket. The one who doesn't mind contact, or whether he's shooting or passing, and usually ends up sprawled somewhere on the court.
If you're struggling for a second, don't fret. Boston College senior forward Jared Dudley hardly is the All-American type. He doesn't necessarily shoot the ball really well. He's not so nimble with it, either. Nor is he exactly money at the free-throw line. And it's not like, at 6-foot-7, he can just post up everyone, either.
But somehow, Dudley finds his way to the hoop, scores, gets assists and does just about everything that needs to be done to help the Eagles win games.
Arguably one of the top August signings in recent memory when he came late out of Horizon High in San Diego, Dudley is on the verge of being a first-team All-American as a senior.
It is quite simply an amazing story. Dudley is one of the least-publicized, yet maybe most-valued players in the country, especially now that the Eagles' top forward from a year ago, Craig Smith, is in the NBA with Minnesota.
"It's the style I play," Dudley said. "I did the dirty work. I was good for Craig, but Craig was good for me, too. I do a lot of things that people don't do, stuff you don't see stars doing.
"Usually the third- or fourth-best player on the team is the guy who is doing [what I do]. I'm not the flashy guy, not the guy who is going to wow the crowd."
Dudley is the grinder inside, the guy who seals his defender and makes tight curls from within the flex offense to get looks. He's the one who is diving for the loose balls and occasionally hitting the money 3-pointer when he's open.
"I like getting into the lane, dropping it off for a dunk or making that bounce pass for a layup," Dudley said. "I like to see the other people succeed."
Dudley's no prophet. He never thought he'd end up being a potential All-American and possible NBA player when he left San Diego. Yet, heading into his senior year, he has played in all 100 of BC's games over the past three seasons, logging more than 1,000 minutes in each of them, and scoring exactly 1,500 points (on 48.4 percent shooting) with 6.9 rebounds a game as well.
"It's a good story," said Dudley, who was destined for a prep school had BC not come calling. "I knew if I could play Division I on the East Coast, I would be a success and BC was perfect for me."
Why the East Coast?
"It's my style," Dudley. "I'm more of a banger and West Coast basketball [consists] much more of [small forwards] running up and down. Pitt is my style. UCLA would have been with Ben Howland, but I wasn't on their radar [at the time, when Steve Lavin was coach]. I would have loved to have stayed close to home."
Dudley said he's all about winning, and it's hard to argue with his track record of late. Sure, he has to improve on his shooting, ballhandling and free-throw shooting, but it's hard to argue that he doesn't belong on a list of underappreciated players ready to star this season.
He's so deserving of that honor, we actually turned to Dudley -- a devout student of the game -- to give us his list of 10 other similarly underappreciated players (one per conference) that he has played against, either during the season or in the summer:
• Reyshawn Terry, Sr., F, North Carolina: "I expect him to have a big year. Everyone talks about Tyler Hansbrough, but he's as long as there is, and at 6-9, his upside is ridiculous. He should get more publicity."
• Chris Richard, Sr., F, Florida: "I've liked him a lot. He seems stronger than [Al] Horford. He's a space-eater. He's the one pounding everyone inside and getting deflections. I never saw his game offensively until this past summer. He is good. Very good."
• Rashaun Freeman, Sr., F, UMass: "It seems like he's been there forever, like a six-year senior guy. But he's a lock for 16 points and eight or nine rebounds a game. UMass will be good this year and I wouldn't be surprised if they win the A-10. That's always a hard game for us."
• Ayinde Ubaka, Sr., G, Cal: "I played against him in high school up in Oakland and he was killing us. He definitely has all the tools. He's one of those glue guys. I've always remembered how quick he is and how aggressive he is. He can shoot, handle and has all the tools to have a great year."
• Brian Randle, Jr., F, Illinois: "He's definitely ready for a big year. He can jump, defend -- maybe one of the best defenders I've seen out there."
• Jermareo Davidson, Sr., F, Alabama: "He's relentless. He can shoot real well for a big man, but he can also dunk on you quickly. Those guys on Alabama always hung together when we saw them over the summer. That must be a close team. I could see them winning the SEC West."
• Chris Douglas-Roberts, So., G, Memphis: "He's a really good athlete. Maybe not a great shooter, but he can definitely attack a defense. You have to get him in the halfcourt, like UCLA did to Memphis [in the Elite Eight in March]. He needs to slash and cut and get out in transition, and when he does, he does well."
• Mohamed Abukar, Sr., F, San Diego State: "That's my San Diego guy. He transferred from Florida and has big capabilities. He can shoot the rock, and yet he's 6-10. He likes to play outside, but he's got to be one of the best players in the Mountain West. He'll have a breakout year."
• Coby Karl, Sr., G, Boise State: "He shoots lights-out. He's a good combo guard. He can shoot off the screen and is strong enough to post up. He'll get a lot of 'and-ones.' He's one of the top players in the country, so I expect him to do real well this season."
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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