Looking for some junkyard dogs

Originally Published: December 28, 2005
By Fran Fraschilla | Special to ESPN Insider
Editor's note: Each day from Tuesday to Friday this week, we are featuring one of our experts revealing how he built his prototype team from the groupings provided in the inline below. On Friday, SportsNation will help decide which team is best.

We are calling my team the "Junkyard Dogs," because I have tried to build it around toughness, athleticism and defense. I have tried to create a mind-set that my team would not back down from anyone we face.

With that in mind, we have a seven-man group whose top three -- Shelden Williams, Dee Brown and Randy Foye -- are currently playing on undefeated teams. Also, almost every player I have chosen would be considered a better-than-average defender, with three who might be the best at their position in the country: Williams, Brown and Hassan Adams. In addition, versatility is critical when you only have seven players. Brown and Foye are interchangeable in my backcourt, while Adams and Vincent Grier can play both inside and out. Smith can play small forward and power forward, while Tyler Hansbrough is a power forward/center.

1. Shelden Williams, Duke
In a year without a dominant big man in the Tim Duncan mold, Williams is the best shot-blocking and rebounding big man in college basketball. At 6-foot-9, 250 pounds, he anchors my defense with his ability to keep teams from getting anything easy in the paint.

He currently averages nine rebounds and almost two blocks a game. Offensively, he is no slouch either, as he is extremely effective inside, putting up over 18 points a game on 51 percent shooting.

Ultimately, he is my first pick because he is the best in college basketball at, maybe, the most important position on the floor -- if you have a great player there. And I'll take him because I have great faith in my second and third picks.

2. Dee Brown, Illinois
Last year's Big Ten Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year is my choice here. It gives me the best defensive post player and, outside of Rajon Rondo, the best defensive point guard in college hoops.

Averaging 15 points and five assists a game, Brown is still rounding into form after suffering a broken foot at last year's Chicago pre-draft camp.

Here is why I love him for my team. First, he is one of the quickest players in college basketball. He is a one-man fast break, and defensively, no one puts more pressure on the ball. His almost two steals a game in his career reflect that. Brown also is a very solid playmaker with an assist-turnover ratio comfortably over 2-1 for his career and he can keep defenses honest with his ability to hit the deep shot. Finally, Brown proved his unselfishness last year as he was third in shot attempts for the Illini behind Deron Williams and Luther Head. He is a big reason why the Illini are still undefeated this season.

3. Randy Foye, Villanova
My favorite player in college basketball and he is available with my third selection. Wow!

If you looked in the dictionary under the phrase "junkyard dog," you'll see a picture of Randy Foye. The Newark, N.J., native is fearless, averaging 21 points, five rebounds and almost four assists a game. He plays strong, tough defense, can drive and make difficult shots, pull up in the midrange and shoot from deep, as his evidenced by his 43 percent from the 3-point line.

As for his versatility, he, like Dee Brown, can play either guard position and has pulled down seven or more rebounds three times already this year. I will go out on a limb by saying I think he will end up in the NBA draft lottery.

4. Steven Smith, La Salle
This might be my weak link in the staring five -- even though he is a likely first-round NBA pick next June. This allows me to take Hassan Adams, speaking of "junkyard dogs," with my fifth pick.

Still, Smith is extremely talented, averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds. He burst onto the national scene a year ago when he dropped 36 on the Cincinnati Bearcats, but has long been a local legend in Philadelphia, where people are spoiled by great basketball. He is a strong post-up player and an excellent rebounder who can also knock down 15-footers with consistency. And, he's another guy who plays with no fear!

5. Hassan Adams, Arizona
Adams is captain of my team. An "off the charts" competitor, he can defend, rebound and fill the lane in transition for Dee Brown's alley-oop passes. He attacks the basket relentlessly on the offensive end and attacks the boards on the defensive end. If we want to go small and very quick, he can play power forward like he has at Arizona. While outside shooting is his Achilles' heel, he makes up for it with his great athleticism and competitiveness.

6. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Already off to a great start to his Tar Heels career, Hansbrough gives us another big, physical player to complement Sheldon Williams inside when we choose to go big, or as insurance if "The Landlord" gets into foul trouble.

At 16 points a game on 67 percent shooting and only eight shots a game, Hansbrough already has proven to be an efficient scorer who doesn't need the ball. His youthful exuberance and toughness will fit right in with my starting five.

7. Vincent Grier, Minnesota
I remember asking Jay Wright this summer, "Who was the biggest surprise on your World University Games gold medal team?" Without hesitation, he said, "Vincent Grier."

At 6-5, 200, Grier is another warrior on my team who can play both inside and out. In averaging 17 points and five rebounds last year at Minnesota, Grier had a lot to do with the Gophers' reappearance in the NCAA Tournament.

While not possessing a great jumper, he is a tremendous slasher and a relentless offensive rebounder. He is also an excellent defensive player who will fit in with the team I have assembled. Finally, Foye and Williams were teammates of his on that World University Games team, so this should help our chemistry.

Fran Fraschilla, a college basketball analyst for ESPN, is a regular contributor to Insider.


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Fran Fraschilla is a college basketball analyst for ESPN. He formerly was the head coach at Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico.

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