Craig Brackins, Junior, 6’10 230lbs:
His story: Brackins made a bold and potentially costly decision to return to ISU after a breakout sophomore year in ’08-‘09 that included a head-turning performance against Kansas where he scored 42 points and pulled down 14 rebounds (yet ISU still lost because well, let’s face it, ISU never beat Kansas under Greg McDermott). Brackins had the hype and expectations for the ’09-’10 campaign, but his numbers dropped and he struggled at times as he saw double teams and complex defensive schemes, not to mention, now former ISU head coach McDermott was content with letting Brackins shoot jumpshots and never once decided that it might be a good idea for his 6’10" star to bang down low with the big boys. Seriously, how is it that you allow a 6’10" dominator to go entire halves without even stepping foot into the paint? Good luck with McDermott, Creighton.
Strengths: Aside from donning the best fro-hawk in the Big 12 Brackins has range on his jumpshot. This can also be a weakness of his game because he’s not a great shooter yet, but Brackins possesses the ability to step out and be a threat from outside, much the way guys like Rasheed Wallace or Channing Frye can. Unlike Wallace, however, Brackins doesn’t have a mysterious patch of missing hair in the back of his head. I’m told that NBA GM’s love this about Brackins. It’s also been reported that Brackins registered a 40 inch vertical at a recent NBA combine testing. Just to give you an idea of how high that is, I stacked every porn mag, video and DVD I own and, well…that’s a bad example because my stack was seven feet high, but trust me, 40 inches is legit.
Weaknesses: He cares too much? He works too hard? On the serious side, Brackins’ hesitancy to bang down low for extended portions of the ’09-’10 campaign is a little concerning, but we’re willing to cut him some slack, especially since his coach took a team that had NCAA tournament talent and managed to run it into the ground. Would you really bust your ass for a team going nowhere and a coach that 90% of the fan base thought sucked? I suppose Brackins could add a little muscle to his upper body and become a better lateral/low post defender. He’s going to be a hybrid 3 or 4 at the pro level, so he’ll be guarding guys any range from 6’7" to likely 6’11".
Projection: I think Brackins will go late first round or early in the second round. His talent will be best utilized in an uptempo system where he can run the floor and have the ability to spot up or take his man in space. I could see teams like the Knicks, Trailblazers, Warriors and potentially someone like the Rockets, who might want to turn Brackins into Shane Battier (minus the weird head), except with a little more height and better offensive game .
Marquis Gilstrap, Senior, 6’7" 215lbs:
His Story: Gilstrap has been all over the place. He had a stint with Gulf Coast Community College where he shined, but also struggled to get to the D1 level as he missed a season with a torn ACL and also took a year off from school to focus on his family life (or his art…he’s a marvelous finger painter I’m told). Gilstrap came with some hype to ISU though, and was expected to be the athlete that ISU needed on the wing to get the program back into the postseason. He put up impressive numbers and had some highlight reel moments and many ISU fans hoped that the NCAA would grant him an additional year of eligibility, but in typical NCAA fashion, the powers that be decided that they don’t really care about ISU and were too busy trying to figure out a way to get former Duke basketball player and Syracuse football player, Greg Paulus an additional year so he could play water polo at Stanford.
Strengths: Gilstrap hits the boards well for his size, has a decent outside game and certainly brings athleticism to the floor. Also, I can’t remember another guy who’s hit so many meaningless threes after the game was already decided. Former ESPN sensation Jason McElwain can’t believe how well Gilstrap shoots with 2 minutes left in blowout games (ISU was never on the good side of these of course…really, best of luck at Creighton, Greg McDermott).
Weaknesses: There’s a few, namely that Gilstrap isn’t a great ball handler, was often too much of a freelancer and played undisciplined frequently, but the biggest red flag is the pronunciation of his first name. Just look at it. Marquis. M-A-R-Q-U-I-S. That should be pronounced Mar-kee-ss, yet Gilstrap surprised everyone when he said it’s actually pronounced Mar-kwez. Brett Favre thinks that’s a little ridiculous.
Projection: Gilstrap may get a look in the late second round, but I think with where his game is at, he’s going to be invited to a team’s summer roster and will eventually be relegated to the NBDL. He’s just not polished enough at this point for a team to take a chance on him. Of course, all bets are off if he changes the pronunciation of his first name before draft day.