Hasheem Thabeet: Another big-man bust from UConn?

dmayberry@opubco.com Modified: June 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm •  Published: June 12, 2009
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The list is long but not so illustrious.

It contains familiar names like Emeka Okafor and Charlie Villanueva but also includes forgettable faces such as Travis Knight and Jake Voskuhl.

It's the fraternity of big men from the University of Connecticut. Some have gone on to great success in the NBA. Most have not.

Hasheem Thabeet is next in line, for better or for worse.

The 7-foot-3 center is projected to be a top three pick in the June 25 NBA Draft, and the Thunder is in play for his services. A career path similar to Okafor's would be nice. One similar to Knight's would be a nightmare.

Such has become the dilemma when drafting UConn big men. The Huskies have had great success cranking out top flight NBA talent on the perimeter. Players like Ray Allen, Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton, Caron Butler and Rudy Gay headline the list.

But more than a few stiffs have come out of Storrs, Conn. Serviceable is a more polite label and perhaps more appropriate considering how the former Huskies have managed to cling to careers. But Connecticut's big men by and large just haven't found the same success in the NBA as they enjoyed in college.

"It's fair to say, but historically that means nothing," said ESPN basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb. "Recently, they've had some duds. But I think those guys reaped some of the benefits of some of the earlier guys. And Thabeet is more like some of the guys they had previously."

Hilton Armstrong was the 12th overall pick by New Orleans in 2006 after ranking in the top 10 in the nation in blocked shots at 3.1 per game as a senior. So far, he's averaged just 12.9 minutes, 3.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.5 blocks in his first three seasons.

Similar examples can be found with Voskuhl, Knight and Josh Boone. Okafor, Villanueva, Donyell Marshall and Clifford Robinson are the most successful post players to come out of Connecticut in the Jim Calhoun era.



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