Andrew DeGeorge’s College Basketball Starting 5

Each of our podcast personalities are picking a  All-Star Starting 5 for college basketball; here is Andrew DeGeorge’s team:

This task is a tough one, but ultimately, I selected a low-turnover team with some dominant inside scoring to lead the way. Here is my full squad. 

Point Guard: Payton Pritchard – Oregon

  • I said it on last weekend’s takeaways, but I fully believe Pritchard is the best point guard in the country. He’s gritty, doesn’t turn the ball over, and shoots the ball at a 46% clip. He can also distribute the ball, racking up 5.5 assists per game and turning the ball over just 2.7 times. His efficiency and ability to both pass and shoot led me to selecting Pritchard as my point guard. 

Guard: Myles Powell – Seton Hall

  • This may be a slightly surprising pick, but I believe Powell is the driving force behind Seton Hall’s surprising season. The Pirates have not been higher than a 6-seed since 1993 and haven’t made it past the opening weekend of March Madness since 2000. With Powell leading the way, the Pirates look primed to break both of those streaks this year. Their point guard is averaging 21.3 points per game – the highest of my guards – and he will be a spectacular option off of Pritchard, whose shooting prowess will draw defenses away from the Seton Hall star. 

Guard: Elijah Hughes – Syracuse

  • I’ve gotten to see Hughes several times in person and I’ve been impressed. He grabs the most rebounds (5.1 per game) and turns the ball over the least (2.3) out of all my guards. He scores 18.8 points per game, the lowest of my three guards, but Hughes is a trustworthy guy with the ball in his hand, and he will play gutsy basketball and make the right decision most of the time. He probably will not be a primary scorer for this team, but he has the toolkit to impact the game in other ways. 

Forward: Luka Garza – Iowa              

  • Garza is one of the best paint players in the country, and he could start at either forward or center for my team. I’m putting him at forward for the relatively arbitrary decision that my other big man is slightly taller, but either way, I expect Garza to be a huge factor offensively for my team. He leads my squad on 23.6 points per game while also grabbing 9.6 rebounds. He has made a relatively mediocre Iowa team relevant through his spectacular play, and with a better supporting cast, I trust the Iowa big man to be even more potent in this lineup. 

Center: Udoka Azubuike – Kansas

  • While Azubuike does not boast the same numbers as some of the premier inside scorers in the country, it is partially because his role on the Jayhawks does not require him to do so. He averages 13.4 points per game on a stunning 74.4% shooting percentage, while grabbing 10.4 rebounds per game. He’s one of just a few players to average a double-double, and he constantly gets free in the paint. His biggest downside is occasionally being limited by foul trouble, but Azubuike is an elite talent, having a 7’0, 270-pound center with his skill is too good to pass up, so he cracks my starting lineup. 

Coach: Bill Self – Kansas

  • Rock. Chalk. Jayhawk. Bill Self has never missed the NCAA tournament when coaching Kansas, and he has never lost more than 10 games in a season. He’s got plenty of NCAA tournament experience, he’s been to two Final Fours, and he’s won it all once. He’s got what it takes to win, and with a lineup this talented, I’ll take Self to guide them to the finish line. 

March Impact Player Profile: Udoka Azubuike, Kansas

In scanning lists of statistical leaders, the name Udoka Azubuike may not reach your eyes very often. His stat line isn’t gaudy, and due to a talented array of shooters in the Kansas lineup, he isn’t always the go-to guy for the Jayhawks. But Azubuike, a 7’0 center from Nigeria, can take over games in ways that go well beyond the box score. 

Take the Jayhawks’ Big 12/SEC challenge game against Tennessee. As the Volunteers repeatedly tried to make a comeback, Kansas responded with consistent feeds to Azubuike in the paint, who dunked with little effort over his defenders, spurring on the home crowd and energizing his teammates. At one point, Tennessee collapsed so hard, selling out for the pass to Azubuike, that Kansas kicked it out for an easy three. While the play doesn’t show up on the senior center’s stat sheet, it was his impact that gifted the Jayhawks the open look. Overall, Azubuike poured in 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, for one of his ten double-doubles on the season. 

Azubuike is known to get into foul trouble, picking up at least three fouls on ten different occasions, and fouling out once, so he isn’t always on the court as much as his counterpart stars, but when he is, his impact is nearly unmatchable. He creates a mass quantity of high percentage shot opportunities, leading to a 76.3% shooting rate for the year. And when he’s not getting a lot of shots, he’s impacting the game in other ways. There have been just two contests this year when Azubuike was held to under 10 points, under 10 rebounds, and less than 3 blocks. When #1 Baylor shut down his inside looks, Azubuike locked down defensively with a season-high seven blocks. In a overtime win over #6 Dayton, Azubuike only got three rebounds, but he was unstoppable near the basket en route to 29 points on 12-15 shooting. 

While Azubuike may not be a traditional star, his immense value to the Jayhawks is unquestionable. The Nigerian native has not scored more than 12 points in any of the three Kansas losses, suggesting that when they get their big man going, combined with their skilled outside shooting, the Jayhawks may be nearly impossible to stop. 

This valuable impact makes Azubuike our next March Impact Player Feature, so be sure to watch out for this guy when Kansas goes dancing. Rock Chalk Jayhawk.