Two incongruous facts about Brian Carlwell:
- He is a 6-foot-11, 300-pound college basketball center.
- He averaged 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds as a role player for the 2010-11 Aztecs.
Sufficed to say, Carlwell is a bit of an enigma: He combines the body of dominant college post player with the grace and dexterity of a newborn Labrador retriever puppy. As a result, Carlwell is basically either a poor man’s Mike Mackell or a upper-middle-class man’s Mohamed Camara. He’s a good piece of the puzzle, no doubt, but more like one of those small, nondescript pieces of the farmhouse wall behind the calico kitten and the basket of daffodils.
Obviously, his minutes were limited by the presence of senior stars Malcolm Thomas and Billy White last year, but that only explains so much. For me, he’s just never really passed the eye test — at no point has Carlwell ever seemed like potential starter.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s really fun to pull for and he’ll go down as a good Aztec. He has overcome a lot just to make it back onto the floor and seems like a cool dude. But on the court, he’s just … adequate.
Which leads me to my next incongruous fact: I intently check the paper every freaking morning to see if there’s any news about Carlwell’s eligibility waiver for a sixth year (the NCAA is apparently waiting for the lab results on a stool sample or something before it can rule). See, there’s this sick feeling in my gut that the entire upcoming season hinges on the eligibility of a player I’ve spent the past five paragraphs reluctantly downgrading. If only I had a reason for feeling this way …
- F, Tim Shelton, 6-7, 245
- F, DeShawn Stephens, 6-8, 215
- F, Alec Williams, 6-6, 245
Assuming Steve Fisher doesn’t go small and play zone all season (or if an eligible Dwayne Polee or an SEC transfer doesn’t magically fall from the sky), that’s your probable rotation for the 4 and 5 spots this year. Read that list again, and try to belt out an “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” It’s tough, right?
This is no knock on our current players, it’s just a fact that SDSU would be pinning its fortunes to some serious question marks in the frontcourt. Shelton is a good leader with a big, strong body — unless you count his legs, which are made of glass from recycled Jarritos bottles. Stephens is an intriguing JC player, but hardly a sure thing. And Williams is … who the hell really knows? I’m not sure Fisher knows. All I have to work with is the fact that he made it into 11 fewer games last season than Mehdi Cheriet.
Add Carlwell to the mix? It’s a four-man rotation I can live with.
Then there’s this: If Carlwell is denied by the NCAA and all other pie-in-the-sky contingencies fail, Fisher is going to have to scramble to sign an unrecruited JC big man who can play immediately, thus burning a scholarship for his 2012 class. It’s a bowl of shit he’s going to have to eat, seeing as his team will otherwise be a sprained ankle or two away from suiting up random students from the kinesiology department (Did I mention Bill Self is a douchebag?).
So here we are. Waiting with baited breath. Knowing Brian Carlwell, in all his adequacy, may honestly be the difference between the Aztecs being a 16-win CBI hopeful and a 23-win NCAA bubble team. The difference between signing a potential star in the 2012 class, and burning a scholly on some stiff.
I’ve got to admit, plain old adequate is sounding pretty fucking spectacular right about now.