First off, I want to clarify the title of this post -- in no way am I suggesting that someone who led the PAC-12 in rebounding as a sophomore and was named PAC-12 DPOY (I'm just pretending that the voters weren't stupid) is going to be replaced easily. When Dre leaves -- whether it's after next season because he's going pro early or after we've celebrated him on Senior Day -- it's going to leave a big hole in our lineup. Someone with that rebounding ability will be missed, period.
But the question is, who is going to fill his role on the team? Here's the roster we're looking at after next season ends if Dre leaves early (simplified it to Guards, Swingmen & Bigs and did not take into account potential transfers):
Position Class of 2013 Class of 2014 Class of 2015 Guards Shannon Sharpe* Askia Booker
Swingmen Jeremy Adams* Xavier Johnson
Bigs Shane Harris-Tunks*
One of the bigger concerns that I have with the team is the lack of size we have up front. Some have pointed out that Tad prefers to run a 3 guard offense, so it's not as big of a deal, but I honestly wonder if he prefers that or just runs it out of necessity. If we lose Dre, we only have three "rotation" guys up front (no offense to Mills, but until he bulks up I just don't see him contributing much in PAC-12 play. PROVE ME WRONG BEN!). While I like all three of those guys, that's not nearly enough depth to go against the teams that are pulling in big men recruits at the rate that Arizona and UCLA (provided they land Parker) are. So we're going to have to replace Dre.
I think we might have already. I've been wondering this for about a week now, but thought it was just another one of my crazy theories. However today, when I read the interview that the Ralphie Report re-tweeted, Xavier Johnson was quoted saying the following:
First off, I think they meant UCLA, not Arizona there, but X says that he doesn't play the same position as Bazz. Bazz is a SF. He's the prototypical SF in fact, which is what we were assuming that XJ would play for CU. Now I'm wondering if he might be eventually filling the role of Dre as a 3/4 player. But does he have the size?Are you looking forward to playing against anyone in particular?
Oh, definitely, [class of 2012 small forward] Shabazz Muhammad (Arizona), thatís my focus, I want to beat him. He doesnít really play my position so it will be hard for me to actually guard him but I look forward to going up against him.
Roberson is listed at 6'7", 210 lbs. by CU. If you look on the recruiting sites, XJ is either 6'6" or 6'7" so he has the height. The question is the weight. Some sites have him as low as 185 lbs., some have him at 205. So he might actually have the bulk necessary to at least play a little 4 -- especially when you consider that as a recruit, Dre was listed as 6'7", 190 lbs.
Normally, I prefer my fours to be a little bigger than both Dre & XJ, but with the knack that they have for rebounding the ball (XJ grabbed 9.2 rebounds a game. Dre grabbed 7.7 rebounds a game as a HS senior), then Tad may be planning on playing XJ more in the Dre role than as the prototypical SF we all expected. The Ralphie Report will be interviewing XJ later today, so I asked them if they could check with XJ on it, but this may be something to keep an eye on.
All I know is that I'm really looking forward to seeing Dre & Xavier go after the ball at the same time.