BC forward no dud

Eagle draws praise for early season dominance

Jared Dudley, who grew up on the West Coast, always dreamed of playing ball in the East.

“Obviously the exposure is way out there – more exposure than anyplace else,” said Dudley, Boston College’s highly acclaimed senior forward from San Diego.

He takes a 19.3 scoring average, 9.1 rebound mark – and a reputation as one of the country’s top players – into today’s marquee nonconference matchup against Kansas University.

Tip is 1 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse with a live telecast on Channels 5 and 13 and replay at 10:30 p.m. on Sunflower Broadband Channel 6.

“Coach (Bill) Self said he is probably the best perimeter player we play all year by far,” said KU sophomore Brandon Rush, who figures to draw the opening defensive assignment on Dudley.

Julian Wright also figures to spend some time trying to slow the versatile 6-foot-7, 225-pound senior, who has hit 61 percent of his shots, including nine of 21 threes.

“He can play inside and out. He’s a great shooter,” Rush noted. “He’ll probably be another P.J. Tucker (former Texas standout) with more of an outside game.”

Dudley, a second-team all-ACC pick last season who will likely snare first-team All-America honors this season, hit three three-pointers in as many tries and 10 of 13 shots overall – good for 30 points – in a 65-58 victory over Michigan State on Nov. 29 in Boston.

That’s the game that – for Dudley – really set the East Coast hype machine in motion.

“He’s maybe the best player we’ll come across all season,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, whose teams are known for stout defensive play, told the Boston Globe.

Boston College's Jared Dudley celebrates during the Eagles' victory against Michigan State. Dudley leads BC with 19.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per contest. Kansas University plays host to BC today.

“He doesn’t have to have the basketball to do damage. He does everything you’d want somebody to do. He rebounds, plays hard. He takes only good shots. He schooled us. It was like a pro doing it to a rookie.”

Dudley’s effort versus MSU awed legendary Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan, who after the game deemed Dudley not just the best pure forward in the country, but tops in B.C. history.

“I’ve seen them all the past 42 years and it’s an easy call,” Ryan wrote in his column the day after the ACC/Big 10 Challenge game.

“We can debate B.C. guards from now until Washington’s birthday, but the forward debate is over. Hold all calls. We have a winner,” Ryan declared.

Like Ryan and Izzo, KU coach Self appreciates Dudley’s skills.

“He’s one of the best players in America, a strong candidate for ACC player of the year,” Self said, adding, “he is very physical, a great offensive rebounder, a good shooter with great size. The game is in slow motion to him.”

Dudley, who has 34 offensive rebounds (KU’s leader is Darrell Arthur with 31), acknowledges his versatility is an asset.

“I try to do a little bit of everything,” said Dudley, a late bloomer who was lightly recruited out of San Diego’s Horizon High, choosing B.C. over Creighton and San Diego State.

“I try to do whatever permits me to help my team win. If my shot’s not falling, make extra rebounds, steals, assists.”

He says his strength is “awareness of the game, putting people in the right position, scoring at the right time, being aware of the time and the personnel on the floor and having a high basketball IQ.”

A student of the game, Dudley is aware of the significance of playing at KU today.

“I’ve never been to Kansas before, so I’m definitely excited to see what they have to offer. They have a great tradition,” said Dudley. “We’re playing them on the road, where we love to play, and in an arena that has a huge tradition.”

The 9-2 Eagles are 1-1 on the road this season, winning at UMass, 84-73, on Dec. 2, after losing at Providence, 73-64, on Nov. 22. The Providence game followed a home loss to Vermont, which at the time had the unranked Eagles 1-2 on the season.

“It was growing pains and also not having your full team. It was a lot easier to score on us without possibly the best shot blocker in the country down low,” Dudley said of 6-10 junior Sean Williams (5.4 blocks per game), who missed the Vermont game as well as a season-opening victory over New Hampshire because of a suspension.

“Since he’s come back we’ve been real, real successful.”

The Eagles, who have a second 6-10 junior starter in John Oates, have the ability to play an effective halfcourt game as well as the ability to push the ball.

Sophomore point guard Tyrese Rice leads a B.C. attack that averages 77.4 points a game to opponents’ 64.2 mark.

“You can’t put one thing on us. We’re going to do what it takes to win,” Dudley said of the Eagles, who have won six straight games, including a home victory over Maryland. “If a team’s strength is running up and down, we try to run when it’s an advantage for us to run. Are we going to run Saturday? We’re going to pick and choose. We’re not going to just slow it down.”

The versatile Dudley said he was not concerned with the 16 NBA scouts who will attend today’s game.

“I really don’t think about it, to be honest,” he said of the 2007 NBA Draft. “Just trying to get to the NCAA Tournament. I’m thinking what a huge opportunity we have before us.”

Those who have seen Dudley up close and personal realize the player will make some NBA team happy on draft day.

“He’s not the flashiest, not the quickest, not the strongest and not the ‘Most Likely to be in the Lottery.’ He’s simply the best,” columnist Ryan noted of Dudley.