Is that Buck Williams? No, it’s Tyler Hansbrough
On Tuesday news came out that University of North Carolina power forward Tyler Hansbrough won the Sporting News Player of the Year for Men’s College Basketball. With this award, Hansbrough enters the rare territory of hanging in the rafters with the likes of Michael Jordan and James Worthy.
But when watching Hansbrough play it is not ACC greats such as Jordan and Worthy that come to mind, but rather a once-dominating ACC power forward named Buck Williams. One can’t help to look at the two players and not see striking similarities in their game.
Both players are 6’8” power forwards who played their college ball in the ACC, Williams at Maryland and Hansbrough at UNC. Both were the ACC Freshman of the Year with Williams’ award coming in 1979 and Hanbrough’s in 2006. In 1980 and 1981, Williams averaged 15.5 points per game and led the ACC in rebounding in 1979 and 1981. He earned All-American honors in 1981 while being named to the All-ACC team in 1980 and 1981.
Like Williams, Hansbrough is the dominant big man in the ACC. In his freshman and sophomore campaigns he averaged 18 points and 7 rebounds per game. This season Hansbrough is putting up the impressive numbers of 23 points and 10 rebounds per game. Each season at UNC Hansbrough has been named to the ACC First Team, in addition to being named a Sporting News First Team All-American in 2007 and 2008. Both players have been recognized by their college teams; Williams was named to the University of Maryland Hall of Fame in 2001 and Hansbrough is having his jersey retired and looks to be a lock to some day join the UNC Hall of Fame.
Williams’ and Hansbrough’s similarities go beyond the numbers and on to the court where they are both are characterized by hard-nosed play. Like Williams, Hansbrough plays a gritty down-low game that is predicated on offensive rebounds, tough put-backs, and in-your-face-defense. Hansbrough has yet to show the “lock-down defense” that came to be Williams’ trademark, but he is one of the better defending big men in the NCAA while also having a knack for drawing and taking charges. However, at this point in their respective careers, Hansbrough looks to be the more offensively talented of the two.
We at the BlazersOG are already on record with being big fans of Hansbrough and want to see him in a Blazer jersey. Some doubt the ability of Hansbrough’s game to transfer to the NBA and question his ability to succeed at that level. Who knows, with all college players it is always difficult to predict success. But if history has shown anything, it is that there is always a place for tough big men willing to play hard nose defense and hit the boards, just ask Buck Williams.