There’s a reason that basketball has been thriving again in Manhattan, Kansas. And it’s less about Bob Huggins, Michael Beasley and Bill Walker’s respectively quick residencies; it has to do with Coach Frank Martin and his beast of a senior guard, Jacob Pullen.
In a conference that is littered with as many elite ball carriers as the Big 12, Pullen has asserted himself the fearless, and bearded, leader of the pack over the last two seasons. It was Pullen who led the Wildcats to an Elite Eight appearance last season, and in his final run this year, he upped his numbers across the board – averaging 20.2 points and 3.7 assists per game. In Pullen’s final collegiate game, he clinched the school’s all-time scoring record with a 38-point outburst against Wisconsin in a third-round exit of the NCAA Tournament.
At 6-1, he is an undersized scoring combo-guard, but Pullen is versatile, he knows how to win and is a reliable on-ball defender. In fact, whether or not the 2011 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winner can adjust defensively will be the single strongest asset in bringing his talents to the next level. And the other accolades are there: Two-time All-Big 12 First Team and 2011 AP All-American Third Team member. Next year, he’ll be asked to do his damage from a limited supporting role, but there’s no denying the guy’s experience and skill set.
Earlier today, Hoopsworld’s Alex Kennedy tweeted that Miami will bring in Pullen, amongst other guards, to workout this week. It’s interesting because Pullen could provide a role similar to that of the Heat’s Mario Chalmers. Whereas the equally 6-1 Chalmers is more comfortable in the lead guard role than Pullen may be, both have come from winning situations where they were asked to dominate the ball. As a junior at Kansas, Chalmers wasn’t as potent a scorer as Pullen, but still dropped in 12.8 points and 4.3 dimes a game before becoming a second-round pick in the 2008 Draft. And even though Chalmers’ role has been inconsistent at times during his three seasons in Miami, he still provides a positive impact off the bench.
Pullen might find himself in the same situation this June, if he hears his name called at all on Draft Night. But we’re betting that some team takes a chance on the kid.
What do you think about Pullen’s chances? Do you fear the beard?
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