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College Basketball : A Look at All-America Candidates, Through Some Professional Eyes

February 18, 1986|Mark Heisler

A pro perspective on the All-American team:

Center--William Bedford, Memphis State. A junior but if he comes out, he'll go right to the top of the NBA draft. He's 7 feet and only 220 pounds but getting stronger. He used to take naps, get into foul trouble and lose his temper when he was roughed up, but no more. He isn't Ralph Sampson, Akeem Olajuwon, or Patrick Ewing, but he's no project, either. We ain't talking Benoit Benjamin here.

Pros have to like the fact that he just got busted for two games by the NCAA, for driving a Lincoln Continental, a Jaguar and a Corvette loaned to him by fat-cat boosters last spring. Maybe the hassle will nudge him closer to opting to buy his own?

Otherwise, forget it. The best senior centers will all be big forwards in the NBA.

Honorable Mention--North Carolina State's 6-10 sophomore Chris Washburn. Played eight games as a freshman before he got caught with someone else's stereo, so this is really another freshman year. Coach Jim Valvano says he's too nice on the floor, but he's getting over it. Says one NBA general manager: "He's coming fast."

Power Forward--Brad Daugherty of North Carolina. After that, it's between Michigan's Roy Tarpley and Georgia Tech's John Salley for second place.

Only 20 years old, Daugherty is a good offensive player. Throw him the ball down low and he'll hit a turnaround jumper before you can say Tar Heels. Great touch, 60% shooter. Big enough at 6-10 and 240 that he can get his shot in the NBA, too. Fair rebounder and defender at best, but well schooled and consistent. He's no tiger though. He makes Sam Perkins look charismatic.

The 6-11 Tarpley was the preseason consensus player of the year, which was what you might call reaching. He had arthroscopic knee surgery and his numbers have fallen from 19 points and 10 rebounds last season to 15 and 9. Salley, a wiry 7-footer, misses Yvon Joseph, the 6-11 dreadnought he played next to a year ago.

Says NBA scouting director Marty Blake: "It's like Pete Newell says about Salley, he can run, shoot, block shots. You shouldn't think in terms of negatives."

That's one way of looking at it, although it's not unanimous.

Says the NBA general manager: "Salley has been in and out. Not quite the year everybody hoped for. Somewhere in the first round. Tarpley is the same thing. Not outstanding."

Honorable Mention--Mark Alarie, Duke; Larry Krystkowiak, Montana; Efrem Winters, Illinois.

Pros are already eyeing LSU's John Williams, a barrel-chested 6-8, 235-pound sophomore from Crenshaw High School. He's in the George McGinnis tradition. Says the GM: "If he came out this year, he'd have a chance for the top 10."

Small Forward--Walter Berry, St. John's. A junior, but there's been so much speculation he'll come out that even his jovial coach, Louie Carnesecca, is getting irritated.

Berry is intriguing, a 6-8 center who has dominated games against big, quality front lines, like Duke's. He has long arms and great jumping ability and plays huge. Will that get him by in the NBA? It better, because he hasn't shown he can play away from the basket.

His sleepy expression and the fact that he won't give the ball up as long as he can see daylight once scared scouts but these are leaner times and nobody's perfect.

Says the GM: "He's a competitor, a talent, if an unorthodox one. He'll be a tough small forward in our league. The first pick this year? Could be."

Very Honorable Mention--Len Bias, Maryland. Overlooked, since the Terrapins are nowhere, but among people interested in something other than drafting the best large athlete available, he's the odds-on choice for college player of the year.

Says an Atlantic Coast Conference reporter: "They're putting three guys on him and he's getting 25 points a game." He's 6-8, shoots from the outside, handles well, isn't afraid to take it inside, good rebounder. Has a chance to make the draft's top five.

Honorable Mention--Kenny Walker, Kentucky; Chuck Person, Auburn. Walker is a great college player, but like Wayman Tisdale, another post-up jump shooter, he doesn't do a lot of things.

Kansas' 6-10 Danny Manning is just a soph but almost a Magic-level ballhandler. He doesn't like playing inside, and the pros probably won't make him. Does he shoot well enough outside to be a small forward? Is the NBA ready for a 6-10 guard? Tune in in two years.

Sleeper (Asleeper?) Louisville's Billy Thompson, a little Connie Hawkins model. He can do it all. The question is, why hasn't he?

Point Guard--There are a lot of prospective stars, but none has stepped forward. The closest is Syracuse junior Pearl Washington.

"I know there's a cloud surrounding him, but he'll play in this league," says the GM.

But how well? Scouts now ask if a player's game translates-- if he can handle the jump to the next level where everyone is gifted and the style is wide open.

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