With the July evaluation period looming for Calipari and his staff, its no secret they will begin to focus on specific guys to join the 2014 recruiting class. The power forward position is an interesting case because it appears Calipari may have three targets: Trey Lyles, Cliff Alexander, and the newcomer Myles Turner. Setting Trey Lyles aside for the moment, picture a situation where UK has the choice of Alexander or Turner. Which player would provide the biggest boost for the 2014-2015 squad? Let’s break it down.
Cliff Alexander Myles Turner
6’9″ 240 lbs 6’11” 223 lbs
Alexander is a brute in the paint. He is looking to body defenders down to get to the rim, and his offensive game has taken great strides recently. Although his mid range game and post skills need development, Alexander has the great mix of strength and athleticism to find his way for a close bucket. Alexander’s great rebounding and positioning allows him to score on putback slams consistently, often with highlight reel tip slams. If Alexander gains touch with his back to the basket and a mid range shot, guarding him becomes a two man job.
Turner has a slighter frame than Alexander, but his jump shot gives him an advantage. The big man can smoothly drain shots from all over the court even though he occasionally falls in love with his jump shot instead of using his size to score in the paint. Regardless, a near seven footer with the threat of hitting three point shots is something any coach would take. Aside from the jumpshot, Turner has footwork beyond his years to make up for his slighter frame in the post.
Alexander has the mixture of muscle and speed to become an elite post defender. His athleticism allows him to block shots like some of the longer defenders in the recruiting class, but Alexander’s greatest strength on defense is his rebounding. He has a great IQ for positioning and has the powerful frame to keep his position at will. The greatest appeal of Alexander on defense is his great size because Alexander has the frame to avoid being backed down in the post like most of the young frontcourt players who are often slender.
Turner has that Anthony Davis type of wingspan and uses it well. He is one of the best shot blockers in the class, perhaps not on the level of Davis or Noel but still extremely skilled. Turner is really lacking in strength to defend in the post, but his IQ and timing on shot blocking have helped him make up for his slender body. If Turner focuses on the weight room before he lands on the college scene, he will be one of the elite defenders in the game.
Advantage: Myles Turner. In his meteoric rise in recruiting rankings, I have become a huge fan of Turner’s game. 6’10” and taller shot blockers, regardless of strength, have historically made massive impacts in college basketball, BBN knows this well. While Alexander’s strength and athleticism make him extremely intriguing, Turner’s ability to shoot from all over the floor is the most important factor to me. Turner and Karl Towns would make a frontcourt with unparalleled length while allowing great spacing with their excellent shooting. The Twin Tower lineup of 2012-2o13 could not stretch the floor on offense, but this new Twin Tower lineup would give opposing coaches nightmares on both ends of the floor.