WCC Player Position Rankings: Center


With basketball season just around the corner, West Coast Convo is excited to bring you our 2014-15 Player Position Rankings. Our writers have cast their votes for the top five players at each position in the West Coast Coference, and over the next five days we will be bringing you the results. We kick things off with the centers. Lots of talented big men in the league, and it’s no surprise that each of the teams represented is doing quite well thanks in part to their quality big men.


Feb 8, 2014; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars forward Nate Austin (33) shoots the ball while San Francisco Dons forward Cole Dickerson (25) goes for the block during the second half at Marriott Center. Brigham Young Cougars won the game 68-63.Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Austin is one of the best rebounding centers in the WCC at 7.9 rebounds per game last season. While he does tend to get in a lot of early foul trouble, no one can argue with the effort he displays on the court and the passion he plays with. Offensively, he has a nice jump shot but he seems to lack confidence and is a reluctant shooter.

As a freshman, he averaged one shot every 4.2 minutes he played, but that number has fallen all the way down to one shot every 10.6 minutes played last year as a junior.  He is one of the most infrequent shooters in the country. If he can become more willing to be an offensive threat, he should be one of the better overall centers in the conference.

-James Pigott


Feb 16, 2013; Rosemont, IL, USA; DePaul Blue Demons center Derrell Robertson Jr. (10) shoots the ball against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the second half at the Allstate Arena. DePaul beat Rutgers 75-69. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

With Cole Dickerson graduating in Spring of 2014, the Dons lost 20% of their 2013-2014 scoring. Luckily for USF, they already have a game ready performer to replace Dickerson’s presence in the paint. Derrell Robertson transferred from DePaul to San Francisco after his sophomore year. As a Blue Demon, Robertson played every game DePaul played for a total of 61 games. During that span, Derrell only made three starts but specialized in his rebounding and shot blocking.

Standing at 6’ 10’’, Robertson is taller then his predecessor and is the tallest Don on the roster. San Francisco has struggled to roster a true center since Moustapha Diarra during the 2010-2011 season. As a new weapon, and a red shirt year under his belt as a Don, Roberston has a unique opportunity to bring the Dons to the next level.

During the opening season festivities at Hilltop HoopSFest on Saturday, Robertson played in the annual Green & Gold scrimmage to end the night. This is a intrasquad scrimmage to give fans a sneak peek on the new squad. Very quickly fans could see how smoothly the Green & Gold were finding Robertson under the basket – it was exciting to watch. With the skills presented in Chicago during his tenure at DePaul as a core foundation, the new opportunity to be a scoring threat in San Francisco easily places Robertson as one of the WCC’s top five centers.

-James Stapleton


March 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Portland Pilots center Thomas van der Mars (12) shoots the ball against the Loyola Marymount Lions during the first half of the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Portland’s senior Thomas van der Mars comes in third on our list of top centers in the WCC. I voted the Dutch brainiac first, but I’m unabashedly biased when it comes to lists of these sorts. Over the past three years van der Mars has developed into the most consistent low post presence in the WCC averaging 13.5 pts and 7.2 rebounds a game last season. He scored in double digits over the Pilots’ final seven games averaging 16.4 pts over those contests including a 22 point, 17 rebound effort against the number two center Brad Waldow and Saint Mary’s.

Van der Mars does a lot of damage with his lethal jump hook that he uses over both shoulders. He is extremely disciplined when it comes to shot selection (he has 1 three point attempt in three years at Portland). The question this year will be if he can continue his improvement with the loss of Ryan Nicholas at the PF position. I expect that it may have a slight effect in the beginning, but come December van der Mars will emerge as Portland’s top scorer and he will consistently draw double teams in the post, opening things up for Kevin Bailey, Bryce Pressley, and the rest of the Pilots.

David Thompson


Waldow has been consistently one of the Gaels most productive players, averaging 11.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in his first three seasons. The 6-foot-9 forward got off to a blazing hot start last season, averaging 17.1 points and 6.9 rebounds in the non-conference slate. Although his performance regressed slightly during conference play, Waldow was still regarded as one of the most dominant big men in the conference.

In order for the Gaels to assert themselves in the WCC this season, which is expected to be more competitive from top-to-bottom, Waldow needs to consistently be a force down low from game-to-game especially against the Gonzaga, BYU and last season’s breakout team San Francisco. With Waldow’s talent and skillset, this is a reasonable request for the strong and nimble Waldow.

In his last season in college basketball, Waldow has something to prove in his final season in order to make his final year successful and to bolster his chances of making it to the NBA.

-Josh Horton


Mar 21, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs center Przemek Karnowski (24) drives against Oklahoma State Cowboys forward/center Kamari Murphy (21) in the second half of a men

Center position can present a matchup nightmare in college.  A surprising number of teams do not possess a true center which can be very limiting on both sides of the ball.   Karnowski is a 288 pound, 7-foot-1-inch center, and he indeed presents a nightmare for many teams.  Take last year’s game at West Virginia when he had 19 points and 13 rebounds. The Mountaineers simply could not account for Karnowski on the court. Especially this season, the completeness of Gonzaga’s tarting five would have a giant hole in it without Karnowski.

Karnowki’s size all him to make a difference in games with his defensive presence and offensive rebounding. He is West Coast Convo’s best center in the WCC.

-Andy Buhler

Join us tomorrow as we move to the power forwards.