BIOGRAPHY: A relatively slight African center who stands well over 7 feet and specialized in shot blocking in the rough-and-tumble Big
East, Thabeet was likened to Dikembe Mutombo when he arrived in Storrs three years ago and that comparison has picked up steam
ever since. Mutombo spent three years at Georgetown, just like Thabeet did at Connecticut, and their progressions were strikingly
similar. Thabeet was a shot-blocking wizard from the time he sent back seven shots in his collegiate debut. His offensive
game has come along nicely, culminating with six 20-point performances while leading UConn to the Final Four as a junior.
The co-Big East player of the year also made a nice jump on the boards from 2007-08 to 2008-09, going from 7.9 per game to
10.8. There's no question Thabeet is an excellent help defender, but he can be vulnerable when going one-on-one with wide-bodied
forwards - Pitt's DeJuan Blair dominated him in their first meeting this season. His offensive game is still evolving, and
this may be the area where his career path differs from Mutombo. While Mutombo never surpassed the 17.0 points per game he
scored as a rookie, Thabeet doesn't figure to be a double-digit scorer in his first NBA season. That doesn't mean he can't
become one, provided he improves his footwork and post moves. A lot of his points will come off second chances, but his impressive
ability to run the floor should lead to some easy dunks in transition. How he develops offensively will ultimately determine
his ceiling in the NBA, but it seems like a foregone conclusion that Thabeet will be a game-changer defensively. That alone
will get him drafted in the top five, but if he can eventually average 15 points, Thabeet could be remembered as the premier
player of the 2009 draft class.