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McCrea cracks CBS Sports’ Top 100 list for second time

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

The danger that stemmed from Javon McCrea’s outstanding freshman season was that local college basketball lovers immediately created unrealistic expectations for the University at Buffalo star power forward. “He’s a future NBA first rounder!” “Catch a glimpse of McCrea before he goes pro early!” “Can anyone stop this tank of a basketball player?”

He followed up his freshman campaign with a decent sophomore season that was overshadowed by MAC Player of the Year Mitchell Watt’s late emergence. McCrea’s stats were nearly identical to his freshman season despite playing four more minutes per game:


Now, McCrea has dropped four spots—from No. 93 to 97—in CBS Sports’ Top 100 Player List as chosen by its chief writers Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander. The 100-player chart is worth reading for any college basketball fan, a quick tutorial on players to watch for the rapidly-approaching season. You’ll get a head start on the best freshmen, too, as 13 make the list.

We had him ranked higher last year, which is strange, because his 2011-12 season was an improvement. And I think by March we look back on this list and see he was about 25 spots too low, because everyone in the MAC knows this is McCrea’s year to run this team and pull home double-doubles every night.—M.N.

It’s worth looking back at what Norlander wrote at this time last year: “If [McCrea] doesn’t make a huge leap this year, it will come next year (next to Virginia transfer Will Regan, I’ll add).” Well, that “next year” has arrived—and while the sentiment is more “how will UB replace Watt?” than “will Regan be exceptional?”—and no one is quite certain what type of player an upperclassman McCrea will be.

Will he be the over-aggressive post player who was too intent on proving his dribbling skills and showcasing his passing than establishing position in the post and using his strength to hoist an untouchable six-footer? To be effective, McCrea doesn’t need flair—he’s already a terrific rebounder, an above-average shot-blocker and a very good scorer from inside 10 feet. I understand that NBA scouts drool over a big man that can distribute and handle, but for UB to reach its potential, then these traits need to be muted.

I know that Javon McCrea has the potential to be great, a top-50 player in D1 with real NBA aspirations after four years in school. Still, he won’t have Watt as a calm, experienced presence along his side—instead, he’ll have to be a model for Regan, who shakes off the rust from sitting out last season. It will be a challenge for the Newark native to pry MAC Player of the Year honors from the favorite, Ohio guard D.J. Cooper, but we’re hoping a solid step forward will occur.

(Header photo courtesy of Don Nieman from the UB vs. Eastern Michigan game in 2012).

TAGGED: cbs, javon mccrea, mac basketball, mitchell watt, ub bulls, university at buffalo, will regan

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