Move over T.I., there's a new King of the South.
With a junior season for the ages last year, Derrick Favors stamped himself as basketball royalty. Playing against the nation's best competition, the South Atlanta (Atlanta, Ga.) big man nearly averaged a triple-double, recording 23.7 points, 17.1 rebounds and 9.1 blocks a game. Favors played his best when the spotlight was brightest, putting up a 32-point, 30-rebound, 11-block effort against one nationally ranked opponent and 42 points, 20 boards and 12 blocks against another.
Favors vs. Howard
* Favors' junior season, Howard's senior season
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound bruiser copped Gatorade State Player of the Year honors with a style reminiscent of fellow Georgia native Dwight Howard, who won Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2004 by averaging 25 points, 18 boards and eight blocks a game as a senior at Southwest Atlanta Christian (Atlanta, Ga.) before jumping straight to The League as the No. 1 overall pick of the Orlando Magic.
Unlike many big men today who want to be guards, Favors sets up shop in the paint and goes over, around and through anyone who gets in his way. If that sounds familiar, it's probably because you've watched Howard dominate the NBA that way. Last season, Howard led the league in rebounding with 14.2 boards per game, was fifth in blocks with 2.2 per contest and averaged 20.7 points per game.
He also found time to redefine the dunk contest, donning a Superman cape to become the first big man to win it since Larry Nance captured the NBA's inaugural competition in 1984. Expect similarly heroic efforts from both Favors and Howard this year.