DeJuan Blair: 'I'm not Chris Taft'

AP Photo/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Matt Freed

DeJuan Blair is off to the NBA, passing on his junior and senior seasons at Pittsburgh for the big show and more importantly -- the big bucks.

The co-Big East Player of the Year and first-team All-American said he had nothing left to prove at the college level, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Pittsburgh had a successful year, but fell short of what many thought could have been a run at a national title when it lost a heartbreaker to Villanova in the Elite 8. Blair averaged 15.6 points and 12.2 rebounds per game in his sophomore season with the Panthers.

Blair is confident in his abilities, obviously, and is sure he'll be a first-round pick. In the Post-Gazette's story, it chronicles Blair's dream of becoming an NBA player, but also sheds light on the possibility of disappointment:

"Blair said the highest he has seen his name on a mock draft is No. 8 and the lowest was No. 22. The Post-Gazette yesterday could not find a mock draft in which Blair was projected to go higher than No. 20 ... Four years ago, Pitt's Chris Taft left after his sophomore season to pursue a career in the NBA. Taft, projected as a first-round pick in April, fell to the second round by draft day. Taft played 17 games in his only season in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors and is out of professional basketball."

Blair is fully aware of Taft's story:
"There were a couple of things that happened with Chris," Blair said. "I feel good about this. I feel good about what I can do. My coach will steer me through the process. I'm going to go in fit and in shape. I'm not Chris Taft. That's another thing."

ESPN's Fran Fraschilla said due to the lack of talent in his year's draft class, he sees Blair as a possible lottery pick. The difference between this year and the past couple of seasons, is the absence of the dominant freshmen, i.e. Rose, Durant, Beasley, Mayo, Love etc. The list might start and end with Tyreke Evans this year.

Blair is another interesting case of a near-dominant college player heading into the NBA with a fair share of question marks. He's an extremely wide 265 pounds. Seeing him in person is startling. But, he's only 6-7, so you have to wonder if some of that offensive rebounding prowess he perfected at Pitt will be lost in the NBA.

A quick look of the NBA depth charts, you'd have to immediately compare Blair to other power forwards such as Big Baby Davis or Udonis Haslem. I like the latter comparison. Though the name isn't that sexy, there's no shame in what Haslem does on almost a nightly basis with 10 and 10 at the NBA level.

Your thoughts? Can Blair start and succeed with the big(ger) boys?

Comments (5)

After watching Blair on the AAU trail and seeing him night in and night out the last two years in the Big East, I think Blair will do well in the NBA. He is not a big draft favorite of NBA people, because he 'is what he is' and that is a 6'7 banger in the paint. But, with intense effort and a non-stop motor on the glass, he will get 10 and 10 on a nightly basis. His hands are unreal and strong, and he is a quick leaper after the ball when carving out space. A team will be best suited to using him in 5-6 minute spurts because over a longer period, the opponent will likely be able to take advantage of him defensively by moving him around and making him defend away from the hoop or getting some post-ups with a bigger player on him. But, he will be a likeable player for teammates and fans and he is always about winning. He lives and dies by his teams success, not his individual success.

are you serious with that photoshop job of blair? god awful.

Since when was 6'7'' short lol... i use 2 go to school wit dude... he's a Giant wit a 7'3'' wingspan... plus HE GOT GAME... he dominated at Schenley, he dominated at PITT, and hopefully he keeps that same niche further along in his career...

charles barkly was only 6-6 and he could take over a game any time he wanted to he played against patrick e. akeem o. sam b. and so on

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