Just as undersized big men are finding a home in the lane, taller centers are learning that it pays to be dangerous on the perimeter. Michigan State sophomore Paul Davis is one who is aiming for a breakout season by combining his multiple skills as an inside scorer and passer with an efficient three-point shot. "I'm trying to add another dimension or two to my game that can create matchup problems," says Davis, who led the U.S. team with 177 points and 8.7 rebounds a game at last summer's Junior World Championships. "There are hundreds of 6'10" guys out there, and somehow the great ones separate themselves from everybody else."
What Davis doesn't want to be is the next Rick Rickert, the former Minnesota big man who moved so far out from the basket last year in an effort to impress NBA scouts that he abandoned his inside game—and, not surprisingly, failed to make an opening-day NBA roster after he left school following his sophomore season. "What we're stressing to Paul is, if you're going to be versatile, then be versatile," says Izzo. "You can move outside, but part of being a big man is being physical and playing inside. You've got to be able to do both."
In other words positioning yourself to play today's little-big-man position has to begin with...positioning. Where is your base of operations? Ike Diogu certainly knows his. "It all starts on the block. If you get good low-post position, nobody can stop you," he says. "Well, maybe Shaq." And last we checked, Shaq doesn't play college basketball.