Community Shootaround: Better Prospect — Edey Or Clingan?

The NCAA Tournament title game not only features the two most dominant teams this season but also the top big men in Division I. It’s a matchup of old-school centers between two-time National Player of the Year Zach Edey of Purdue and Donovan Clingan of UConn.

In a different era, those low-post giants would have been the top picks of the draft. The 7’4” Edey has faced double and triple teams most of his college career but has simply towered over and overpowered those defenders. He’s finishing his college career with a flourish, averaging 28.0 points, 15.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 blocks during this year’s tournament.

Clingan was the nation’s best backup big man last season behind Adama Sanogo. The 7’2” Clingan moved into a starting role this season and has improved his draft stock this spring by averaging 16.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 3.6 blocks in the Huskies’ five tournament victories.

They are menacing low post presences at both ends of the floor but the college game is different from the pros. Traditional NBA centers have given way to more athletic players who can guard multiple positions and step out to stretch the floor offensively.

Edey has improved his conditioning — he’s averaging 35 minutes in the NCAAs — and footwork but does most of his damage within eight feet of the basket. The Boilermakers’ guards are adept at getting the ball to Edey at his sweet spots in the low post. Similarly, his defensive prowess is predicated on his sheer size and bulk.

Clingan offers a similar menacing presence at the rim but he’s more mobile and can cover more ground. He’s an effective screen-and-roller but, like Edey, most of his buckets come at or near the basket. He’s made a few three-pointers but, like Edey, will have to work on extending his range.

Currently in a weak draft, Clingan is considered the best domestic product. He’s listed as No. 3 overall on ESPN’s latest Best Available list. Edey is ranked No. 2 among centers and No. 13 overall. It’s a major rise for a projected second-round prospect last year when Edey tested the draft waters before deciding to return to Purdue one more season.

That brings us to our topic of the day: Which center in tonight’s NCAA championship game will have the biggest impact in the NBA — Purdue’s Zach Edey or UConn’s Donovan Clingan?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

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