Column: Who's better for UA basketball?
Two words. Frank. Kaminsky.
Remember him, Wildcat fans?
Yeah, I know it hurts to think about it, but of course you know him.
He’s that enormous guy from America’s Heartland who eviscerated Arizona in the Elite Eight last year when he scored 28 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and stretched out the Wildcat defense all night on his way to leading Wisconsin to the Final Four. Yeah, Frank is a bad, bad man.
I’m not saying Stephen Zimmerman is going to be the next Frank Kaminsky because, I mean, that would be crazy, right?
No, what I’m really trying to say is, Zimmerman might actually be better.
Listed at 7 feet tall and weighing 230 pounds, Zimmerman combines elite size with uncanny ball skills that are unheard of for someone as big as he is. While most 7-footers playing at the college level are a little goofy and mostly unathletic, Zimmerman is not just the guy that happens to be the tallest one on the court.
Watching any of his highlight tapes reveals a guy who can dribble, shoot from the outside, rebound, block shots and score in the paint. There is a reason most 2016 NBA mock drafts have Zimmerman as a lottery pick with comparisons to future Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki.
Can you imagine how unstoppable Arizona’s inside game would be that year if Kaleb Tarczewski sticks around for his senior season? It would be like Stanford’s Lopez twins from a few years ago, minus the freaky twin mind-reading powers. Even if Tarczewski enters the 2015 NBA Draft, Zimmerman’s talent should translate immediately to the college game, and he would have no trouble starting.
Ivan Rabb is a great player. No one is disputing that. But if there can be only one, Zimmerman has to be the choice. Big men with skills like Zimmerman just don’t come around very often. Don’t let this mythical beast get away, Sean Miller; use the Master Ball while you still can.
In 2015, Arizona is going to need a defensive force in the paint to fill the void that will be left after the likely departures of junior big men Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley to the NBA.
Five-star recruit Ivan Rabb would be a better fit in Arizona’s program than Stephen Zimmerman because of the defensive athleticism he’s expected to bring.
Rabb, who was named the top recruit in his class last month, currently sits at No. 5 in the 2015 ESPN 100 and is ranked as the top basketball recruit in California.
The 6-foot-10, 210-pound versatile and ambidextrous, power forward uses his entire 7-foot-3 wingspan to his advantage both offensively and defensively in the low post.
In high school, Rabb has undoubtedly earned all the hype surrounding him after finishing his junior year nearly averaging a triple-double (27 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks per game) for Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, Calif.
Rabb has recorded double-digit blocks in a game multiple times, and if his current skillset transfers over when he breaks into the collegiate ranks, he will be an invaluable asset to a defensive-minded team like Arizona.
Rabb — even more so than Zimmerman — would provide the Wildcats with a better-rounded, multidimensional player. Rabb is an elite shot-blocker and quality rebounder who possesses a decent mid-range jump shot and distributes the ball well.
Unlike with Zimmerman, Rabb would still offer the team the opportunity to be more defensively dangerous when employing a quicker three-guard lineup. If the team decides to go small, Rabb will still be available to crash the offensive glass and extend possessions.
While he has the ability to split defenders on offense and can finish at the basket with power, Rabb truly prides himself on his passing game and possesses good court vision for a big man. He isn’t selfish and won’t hesitate to fake-out a defender with a no-look pass to one of his teammates.