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Position Analysis: Center

Posted: Thu June 18, 1998

Other Positions: Power Forward | Small Forward | Shooting Guard | Point Guard

With the 1998 NBA Draft quickly approaching, CNN/SI takes a position-by-position look at the top prospects. Below, Dan Shanoff and Albert Lin each pick their favorite center, and then give you five others to watch.

SWEET KANDI

MICHAEL OLOWOKANDI
MICHAEL OLOWOKANDI
7'0", 265, Pacific

Why he's The Man: Never heard of the "Kandi Man"? You will, especially since he's likely to be one of the first three picks. If he can be summed up in a word, it's "upside."

Olowokandi has legit NBA-center size, and his childhood soccer background has endowed him with unusually good footwork—considering he's only been playing organized hoops for three years. Some may call his lack of experience a negative; what it really means is that he doesn't have bad habits other players pick up as preps. Under NBA tutelage, he will blossom. Plus, he's a smart kid; he recruited himself to Pacific.

Don't expect an All-Star right away, à là Tim Duncan—but as the old adage goes, "You can't teach size." Down the road he'll be a powerful force in the pivot.

At best, he's the next: Hakeem Olajuwon

And if I'm wrong, he's: Adonal Foyle

—D.S.

 

ON THE ROAD

KEON CLARK
KEON CLARK
6'11", 220, UNLV

Why he's The Man: What a strange road it's been. 1992-93: Senior year at Danville (Ill.) High. 1993-94: Planned to enroll at Temple, but didn't have enough core courses; placed at Irvine Valley College (Calif.) by Owls coach John Chaney for the second semester. 1994-95: Played 23 games at IVC; committed to Temple again. Failed to earn associate's degree; took classes briefly at Danville Area Community College, then ended up at Dixie College (St. George, Utah). 1995-96: Played 17 games at Dixie. Committed to UNLV. 1996-97: First-team All-WAC selection, playing 29 games for Rebels. 1997-98: Suspended for first 11 games for taking spring break trip paid by agents. Played next 10 games. Suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules on Feb. 9. Withdrew from UNLV on Feb. 24.

Clark, a lefthander, is a phenomenal athlete. His offensive game is highlighted by some of the most vicious, explosive dunks in recent memory. Can really run the floor. Also a spectacular shot-blocker.

At best, he's the next: A taller Bo Outlaw, a less-refined Antonio McDyess.

And if I'm wrong, he's: The second-coming of Elmore Spencer.

—A.L.

photographs by John F. Grieshop (left), Rocky Widner

FIVE OTHERS TO WATCH
NameHeight Weight School At best, he's...
Michael Doleac6'11" 269 Utah Elden Campbell
The Skinny: Fairly athletic big man with ability to knock down mid-range jumper. Runs floor well, can bang if needed. Medical school is his backup.
Nazr Mohammed 6'10" 240 Kentucky Ike Austin
The Skinny: Long-armed, slimmed-down tweener with soft hands. Not terribly athletic, but can score in the paint. Weight will always be a question.
Casey Shaw 6'11" 260 Toledo Brian Williams
The Skinny: Beneficiary of the pre-draft camps, impressed scouts with his rugged physical play and rebounding knack against other draft-eligible players.
Alexander Koul 7'0" 285 Geo. Washington Luc Longley
The Skinny: Game never advanced after impressive freshman season. Has a great body—if a bit stiff—and good basketball skills, but heart may not be in it.
Radoslav Nesterovic7'0" 245 Slovenia Zydrunas Ilgauskas
The Skinny: Next European giant almost a carbon copy of Ilgauskas. Needs to put on weight, but can block shots and has good touch around the net.

Other Positions: Power Forward | Small Forward | Shooting Guard | Point Guard

Related information
From Sports Illustrated
Jackie MacMullan's Mock Draft
Commencement: Draft-Class Superlatives
SI's Seth Davis: 12 Intriguing Prospects
Prince or Frog? Keon Clark from UNLV is the great unknown
A Decade of Drafting
Chicago Pre-Draft Camp Notes
Your Turn
You Be the GM: Who would be your top pick?
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