Is Josh Harrellson Kentucky's Brian Zoubek?

Kentucky senior Josh Harrellson entered the season almost as an afterthought while Wildcat fans awaited the eligibility decision on highly regarded freshman Enes Kanter. After today's 23 point, 14 rebound performance against cross-state rival Louisville, maybe we should rethink that thought.

Last year's national champion, the Duke Blue Devils, began the season highly regarded, but with a so-called fatal flaw--no premier man in the middle. Enter Brian Zoubek, a 7'1 Center whose previous contributions had been limited through three years to a maximum of 4.1 pts per game, and 3.7 rebounds.

Without going into more detail than Kentucky fans would care to read about a Duke player, Zoubek's contributions soared to almost eight rebounds a game and about six points in just under 20 minutes per contest. As the season progressed, his contributions became more and more evident as the key to their success.

Which brings us to Kentucky's version, 6'10 center Josh Harrellson.

Harrellson set career highs in today's victory over Louisville with 23 points, 14 rebounds. Perhaps even more importantly than the numbers, though, the team seemed to understand how Harrellson can best fit in.

For the season, Harrellson remains a tick under seven points per game, but he is now the leading rebounder in the Southeastern Conference at almost 10 per outing, one rebound ahead of teammate Terrence Jones. With at least one national pundit touting Jones for early consideration for Player of the Year, more and more teams will find ways to gimmick defend Jones, and Harrellson's role should do nothing but increase as the season continues.

Harrellson's junior campaign saw him practice against NBA lottery pick DeMarcus Cousins. Although he did not score more than five points in a game last season, the experience proved invaluable. Similarly, his practice this season against expected lottery pick Enes Kanter can do nothing but help him as well, as it is likely he will not face any tougher competition in games than he has in practice the last two seasons.

Harrellson has played smart basketball, hitting 65% of his field goal attempts, as well as 2-of-3 3-point attempts. Although he has only attempted nine free throws so far this season, he has hit eight of them for an 89% clip as well.

With Kentucky hitting over 40% from 3-point range, and having one of the top players in the country on the interior in Terrence Jones, the missing piece to the puzzle may very well be Josh Harrellson--Kentucky's (better) version of Duke's Brian Zoubek.

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