Point/Counterpoint: Which former Husky is more likely to become an NBA star?
Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 22:11
Zbierski: Dozens of stars have passed through Storrs since Jim Calhoun took over the men’s basketball program in the mid-1980s. But no player’s star power has shined brighter than that of former UConn guard Kemba Walker. “Kemba,” known on a first-name basis across UConn Country, has not stopped producing since his departure for the NBA after the 2011 National Championship run. A first-round pick by the lackluster Charlotte Bobcats, Kemba has averaged 15.3 points per game since entering the league in the fall of 2011. If anything can be taken from his 25-point performance against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, Kemba just may be the next great UConn-bred NBA star.
Corasaniti: The 20-year-old Andre Drummond came into the UConn men’s basketball program with a lot of hype and left with a bit of a mixed legacy. The 7-foot Detroit Pistons center was a shockwave of raw talent, proving throughout his high school career that he had as much potential to be a superstar as any other great who’s graced the court at Gampel. And although he may not have lived up to lofty expectations in his lone season as a Husky, Drummond has already begun to find his niche in the Motor City. The Mount Vernon native, now just beginning his second pro season, averaged 7.6 rebounds per game along with nearly eight points while solidifying his spot in the Detroit lineup. It was merely a preview of what promises to be a great NBA career.
Zbierski: While Drummond possesses the talent to be a star in this league, it remains unclear as to whether or not he possesses the willpower. As mentioned Drummond came into UConn with expectations unparalleled by any Husky before him. His only season in a UConn uniform was a disappointment. His stats were not impressive and his team was bounced quietly in the first round of the NCAA tournament. While putting up an impressive rookie campaign it remains unclear as to whether Drummond can continue forward in such fashion. Kemba, on the contrary, has slowly improved each year in the league. He averaged 12.1 points per game his rookie season, 17.7 points per game last year and four games into this season has scored 18.5 points a contest. Any UConn fan knows, Kemba has the heart to succeed. He forgot how to lose during 2011’s memorable March run. He’s displayed the same effort since debuting in the league. Considering his stats have slowly improved each season there’s no reason not to believe professional stardom awaits Kemba Walker.
Corasaniti: Just saying, as big a Kemba fan as I am, there is a lot limiting anybody when they are playing for the Bobcats. Though the Pistons may not be vying for a championship any time soon, Drummond has the luxury of being on a team with the likes of Brandon Jennings and ultra-veteran Chauncey Billups. Drummond is in a much better position now to learn from mature players that know what it takes to develop skill sets. Despite his mediocre college performances, Drummond is in a position not only to develop into a superstar one day, but also to become a leader on a team with huge upside in the coming years. With Drummond as a centerpiece for a team building up a plausible contender, better players around him will only continue to help Drummond improve.
Zbierski: Limits shouldn’t be placed on the Bobcats. Charlotte features a young team with an inexperienced owner in Michael Jordon. Right now as a basement team, there’s only room to go up. Kemba could be a prized piece in the puzzle spelling success for the hungry Charlotte franchise. Drummond may be a member of successful teams during his career, he may even develop into an all-star, but who’s to say Kemba Walker won’t do the same? Kemba already has an edge on Drummond in that he is mentally tough, something Drummond has yet to prove. Further, size isn’t everything in the league. Kemba has shown that in his two plus years as a Bobcat. In a game that is as much mental as it is physical, the speedy young guard may have the tools necessary for a long and successful NBA career. If the Bobcats, soon to be Hornets, ever again find success it will be on the back of Kemba Walker. And if that scenario plays out the way it very well could, Kemba will see himself become a star in the NBA.
Corasaniti: Walker has proved himself on the collegiate level and in certain games where he’s exploded to lead the Bobcats to either big or comeback victories. But Drummond is setting himself up not as the guy to lead his team in scoring or even huge plays just yet, but he’s already proving he can play with the best at his position. Even in this young season Drummond has matched up against Marc Gasol and Roy Hibbert and has hung with them as much as any player can. Drummond may not turn into the flashiest or most exciting player out there, but he’s setting himself up to be a foundation piece that could lead Detroit to division titles year after year, and that is what a real superstar is made of. With all due respect to Walker, Drummond has a much higher ceiling in this league, and it is only a matter of time before that all comes to fruition.