Last line of defense: The A-10’s top shot-blockers
A great shot-blocker is a luxury for any D1 team in their battle to defend easy buckets in the paint. The Atlantic 10 has had a number of greats in that department through the years but we think the future is bright as well, starting with this group of our five top returning shot-blockers.
Youssou Ndoye (St. Bonaventure)
At 7′ 245 lbs with an 86″ wingspan, the Senegalese monster is one of the most physically imposing players in the Atlantic 10 conference. His 9.64% blocks percentage ranked second in the A-10 last season but was tops among players who played at least 40% of available minutes. Ndoye blocked at least five shots in three games this season and had a season-high of six in a non-conference win over Delaware. Where he’ll need to improve next season is in avoiding foul trouble, as his 4.67 fouls per 40 minutes is the worst among players on our list and was the eighth worst in the conference this past season.
Alonzo Nelson-Ododa (Richmond)
ANO as he’s called by Spider fans was the team’s defensive anchor last season, one that become exponentially more important with the loss of senior Derrick Williams early in the season. Nelson-Ododa ranked second in the league with 2.4 blocks per game and has totaled 140 in his two seasons at UofR and has altered many, many more. At 6’9 210 with a 7’2 wingspan, not only is Nelson-Ododa one of the better shot-blockers in the league but a versatile deep threat as well. His ability to block and alter shots combined with the Spiders’ tricky matchup zone helped Chris Mooney’s team hold opponents to 46.7% two-point shooting this past season, fourth in the Atlantic 10. Like Ndoye, ANO blocked a season-high 6 shots but in an A-10 win over Dayton.
Mo Alie-Cox (VCU)
Alie-Cox saw the least amount of action among the players on our list (only 14.4 minutes per game) as he backed up A-10 Second-Teamer Juvonte Reddic all season, but when he was in he was a wall, blocking a league-high 10.3% of shots when he was on the floor and anchoring a VCU defense that was prone to easy buckets when he was off the floor. Alie-Cox is the shortest player on our list at 6’6 but a redwood of a man at 250 lbs of muscle that has already drawn the attention of NFL scouts. His 7’1 wingspan and baseball glove hands saw him block a season-high five shots on two occasions, first in a non-conference win over Northeastern then later in just 17 minutes of play as the Rams defeated Saint Louis.
Hassan Martin (Rhode Island)
Like Alie-Cox, the freshman Martin will be torturing opposing slashers for years to come in A-10 play. He led the conference with 2.5 blocks per game in his first season of college hoops, finishing the season with 80 total and a blocks percentage of 9.51%. The 6’7 Martin has an inch on Alie-Cox but overall is the smallest player on the list (210 lbs), making those numbers that much more impressive. Described by ESPN as a “pretty good shot blocker” coming out of high school, it’s safe to say Martin is much more than that and has a bright future with Dan Hurley’s group of talented young players.
Cady Lalanne (UMass)
With a name like Cady, you better be a monster in the paint (that, or have the ability to recommend the right golf club for any situation…technically spelled “Caddy” in both situations, but you know what I mean). Cady Lalanne started strong for the Minutemen before running out of gas, but still served notice as one of the best shot-blockers in the league. His 2.2 blocks per game ranked third in the A-10 as the junior blocked at least four shots on six occasions with a season-high of six in a non-conference win over Ohio. The Minutemen will hope to get a little more mileage out of the 6’10 250 Lalanne next season as he posted single-digit scoring and rebounding his last seven games to finish the season, only blocking one shot per contest over that span.