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August 3, 2009

Can anyone have the same impact as Wall?

Kentucky's John Wall is widely considered to be the freshman who will have the biggest impact on college basketball next season.

Who might give him a run for his money?

We put that question to basketball writers Steve Megargee and Jason King for this week's Monday Tip.

JASON KING'S ANSWER: AVERY BRADLEY OF TEXAS

The main thing hindering Texas during the 2008-09 season was a mediocre backcourt that led to fourth-place tie in the Big 12 and a second-round NCAA tournament loss to Duke. By adding five-star off-guard Avery Bradley to the roster, the Longhorns will now boast one of the top two backcourts in the conference.

The No. 1-ranked shooting guard in the Class of 2009, Bradley is deadly from long range. The thing that separates him, though, is his ability to beat defenders off the dribble, his speed in the open court and - most of all - the tenacity with which he plays on defense.

At 6 feet 3, Bradley also gives Texas' backcourt something it's been lacking the past two seasons - length. With Bradley at shooting guard, Florida transfer Jai Lucas at the point and highly touted freshman Jordan Hamilton on the wing, Texas' perimeter players will give opponents fits all season. The unit will also be one of the nation's deepest with experienced guards such as Justin Mason, Varez Ward and Dogus Balbay also in the mix.

STEVE MEGARGEE'S ANSWER: DERRICK FAVORS OF GEORGIA TECH

Derrick Favors is a big reason why Georgia Tech should rank among the nation's most improved teams this season.

As the headliner of Georgia Tech's fourth-ranked recruiting class, Favors should help Georgia Tech rise from the ACC basement and challenge for an NCAA tournament bid. Favors should team up with returning third-team All-ACC selection Gani Lawal to give Georgia Tech a formidable frontcourt tandem. Favors, a 6-10 post player, averaged 28.1 points and 13.3 rebounds while leading South Atlanta High School to a state championship. He then stood out as one of the top players in the McDonald's All American Game, as he scored a team-high 18 points and matched a team high with eight rebounds to help the East team win 113-110.

He isn't the stereotypical rail-thin freshman big man who needs a year or two to fill out. Favors already weighs 234 pounds and should be equipped to handle the physical pounding that comes from playing in the ACC, even in a conference that features such formidable frontcourt players as North Carolina's Ed Davis and Deon Thompson, Clemson's Trevor Booker, Duke's Kyle Singler, Florida State's Solomon Alabi and Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu.

The ACC had a wealth of talented guards last season, but this year the strength of the league shifts to the frontcourt. Now that Favors has arrived on campus to team up with Lawal, Georgia Tech boasts a combination that matches up well with just about any other frontcourt around the league.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.
Jason King is a college basketball writer for Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports. Send Jason a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.



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