After winning this season’s national title, the Louisville Cardinals are definitely looking to repeat as champs and to find the winning formula to do so. One of the key components of last year’s winning formula was having a talented and well-rounded center in Gorgui Dieng, a player that was defensively and athletically sound. Filling that role that Dieng played will be difficult, but Louisville has the talent to make it happen. In fact, they have a few options as to who they can start.
BEST OPTION: Montrezl Harrell
Harrell is really a power forward, but due to his ability to play in the five slot as well as the fact that Chane Behanan will be Louisville’s main PF, Harrell looks to be Louisville’s center next season. Harrell is very tough and able to compete for rebounds and power his way through the post and many players that are much taller than him. Harrell has a certain fearlessness that will enable him to compete down low with the larger players. He’s not really a scoring threat for teams, but he’ll definitely be a threat on the glass and teams will definitely have to work around that. He’s going to have to learn quickly how to deal with the height advantage that other centers will have on him, but he should do great for Louisville. In fact, some have Harrell as a possible lottery pick in next year’s NBA Draft.
GUY WHO FITS THE CONVENTIONAL CENTER STYLE: Stephan Van Treese
Van Treese certainly isn’t Louisville’s best option to be center, but he certainly is the one that fits the part best. He may not be the most offensively talented player or even the most athletic, but he is a big man and at 6’9″ and 245 lbs, Van Treese is certainly able to provide the body down low that is able to prevent players from driving in and scoring easy points in the paint. He’s able to take the hits that come with being in that position, and his size will also help contribute to the war on the glass that Louisville will have to win in order to go back to a Final Four and National Title Game. Van Treese probably won’t start, but he’ll be a good player off the bench that will be able to provide solid defense will other key players are resting. Plus, Van Treese will be a senior next season and he’s going to have tons of experience that has helped improve his game throughout the seasons.
Now as you can see, there are multiple viable options for Louisville. I think it’s a foregone conclusion that they will and should start Harrell, but I’m just throwing it out there that SVT is a quality player who shouldn’t be passed on. Louisville will utilize his size and strength well this season and will have a fairly small but tough frontcourt.