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Joakim Noah: Future Toronto Raptor?

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While watching Joakim Noah play this weekend I’ve caught myself daydreaming about Noah playing alongside Chris Bosh and Charlie Villanueva on the Raptors. The idea of a frontline that includes three players that are all over 6'10, can block shots and have the ability to hit a three is enough to make this Raptors fan drool.

Adding to my daydreams of Noah in Naismith Silver is the fact that he’s a “late bloomer.” Something that CBS reporters have repeated all weekend is the fact that Noah was a 6'2 point guard his junior year of high school before he hit a growth spurt. Now he’s 6'11 he has maintained his exceptional passing ability while developing into one of the top shot blockers in college basketball.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan talked about Noah being a later bloomer when he told reporters earlier this season that, “last season Jo couldn’t compete up front physically with anybody who had any size. He still needs to get stronger and shoot the ball better from the perimeter. His greatest attributes are his passing, his emotion and how hard he runs the floor. I don’t think Jo will reach his full potential until he’s 26 or 27 years old.”

What CBS reporters have failed to talk about so far this weekend is the amazing pedigree that Noah’s been blessed with. Joakim is the result of a world champion tennis player and a Swedish super model - does DNA get any better than that? His father, Yannick, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005 and his mother is a former Miss Sweden who is now a well known sculptor.

When doing research on Noah it wasn’t his DNA that impressed me, what caught my attention about Noah was the fact that he’s a rare student athlete that puts an emphasis on his studies.

“People think we’re ignorant just because we’re athletes, but everyone should be able to discuss things,” Noah told Sports Illustrated in January. “Poverty, war, politics: there are so many important issues around the world. You have to be aware, and not just about your own country. If you’re rich, think about what it might be like to be poor. Imagine you were a kid living in Iraq. How would your perspective change? You have to listen to different people’s ideas and then yours may change to.”

As this season has progressed Gators fans have seen steady improvement from Noah. Noah finished the season averaging 13.9 points and 6.7 boards per game but if you look at his monthly averages you’ll see that the big man improved each month of the season. In November he averaged 9.3 points and 5 boards per game while in March he elevated those stats to 16.7 points and 9.2 boards per game. In Florida’s first two games of the tournament Noah has averaged 16.5 points and six boards but he’s also exploded for 10 blocks in those two games. Today he only played 18 minutes against Wisconsin-Milwaukee yet was able to score 17 points and swat five shots!

While all of the talk heading into the Tournament has focused on Adam Morrison’s hair, Rudy Gay’s athletic ability and J.J. Redick’s scoring records I think it’s Noah that has become the most intriguing player in college basketball.


Sat 03/18/06, 6:10 pm EST

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