Wednesday, April 4, 2012

So Just Who Is Damian Lillard?

     Anthony Davis. Thomas Robinson. Austin Rivers. Harrison Barnes. Any avid college basketball fan knows who these players are without hesitation. All of them were big-time difference makers for each of their respective teams. They played hard and gave their all, which makes them each a projected top 20 pick in this year's NBA Draft. Given, each of them played for a powerhouse collegiate basketball team that only enhanced their draft status if they were able to do well there. However, there are a bunch of small school players who do just as well as these guys in the stat department, but don't get much recognition. The biggest name of the small school players in the 2012 NBA Draft is Damian Lillard.

Lillard is ranked by ESPN as the top
point guard in this year's NBA Draft.
     So just who is Damian Lillard? He's a 6 foot 2 inch guard from Weber State University. I wouldn't be shocked if many people don't know where it is, so I'll give a brief summary about the college. Weber State is located in Ogden, Utah, about 45 minutes away from the state capital, Salt Lake City. The Wildcats have 15 different sports teams, and compete in the Big Sky Conference of Division I. This year, their men's basketball squad led by the NBA-bound Lillard posted a 25-7 overall record, while notching 14 wins against in-conference teams. Their season suffered a huge blow when they lost to Montana in the Big Sky conference championship game, ending their hopes of a bid to this year's NCAA Tournament. Weber State then lost to Loyola Marymount in the second round of the Tournament (CIT), officially capping off their season.

     So what separates Damian Lillard from the rest of this year's crop of point guards? This polished junior does it all, literally. This season, Lillard averaged just under 25 points per game, along with five rebounds and four assists. He also averaged nearly two steals a game, and his field goal shooting percentage was just under 47 percent. Did I forget to mention that he shot better than 40 percent from three point range? I guess it also helps to shoot over 88 percent from the free throw line too. Those are just the stats. What really makes Lillard so highly regarded is his ability to create. He is lethal from any spot on the floor, and his quickness makes it even harder for defenders to lock him down. His dribble penetration moves are as sleek as anybody else's in the country, and when double teams collapse upon him, his excellent court vision helps him to make the best pass.

     Lillard is more of a score-first point guard, but many believe he has the best potential out of all the guards in the upcoming draft. His speed and all around skill have drawn him comparisons to young All Star point guards in the league like Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and John Wall.

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