Busting Brackets
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NCAA Basketball: Top 30 frontcourt players for 2021-22 season

Mar 12, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) reacts to dunking the ball against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) reacts to dunking the ball against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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NCAA Basketball Virginia Tech Hokies Keve Aluma David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Basketball Virginia Tech Hokies Keve Aluma David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

14. Walker Kessler, Auburn Tigers

It’s easy to note Kessler as North Carolina’s “odd man out” in last season’s frontcourt rotation simply from a minute perspective. However, Kessler’s production on a per-minute basis was better than any other player on the Tar Heels roster. Showcasing himself as a dominant interior defender with mobility to clog passing lanes and disrupting ball-handlers, there was little arguing that the 7’0” freshman was the best defender to wear the team’s uniform.

The coaching change and lack of minutes surrounding the UNC program likely led to the move to Auburn, but the Tigers faithful will openly welcome the move as a potential fan favorite in 2021-22. There’s little competition on the Auburn roster to stop Kessler from featuring his true potential and ideal minute allocation. In the 8.8 minutes per game he received last year, Kessler produced at a high rate of 4.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 0.9 BPG. Much more will be expected of the 7-footer, even alongside star freshman Jabari Smith, on their way towards another disruptive tournament run.

13. Keve Aluma, Virginia Tech Hokies

Aluma’s decision to follow head coach Mike Young from Wofford to Virginia Tech has proven to be a wise and crucial move towards the forward’s career rival. Not much was made of the incoming senior’s production leading up to his 2020-21 season with the Hokies, but the change in scenery was truly transformative. Aluma managed to double his scoring output relative to his last season with the Terriers, despite a similar minute allocation.

Aluma’s mindset to command the offensive responsibility in Blacksburg paid big dividends for his reliable career shooting numbers. The changes helped pave the way for multiple outings over 25-points and an All-ACC selection. The scoring impact was only half the story for Aluma, as he managed to notch six double-doubles and was notably present on the glass for the Hokies. With many offseason departures occurring around the Virginia Tech program, Aluma’s continued consistency will be very important towards a successful year.