If you are the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all-time leading scorer (2,872 points), a four-time All ACC and All American player, first in the NCAA with free throws made (982), fourth all-time in NCAA Tournament scoring (325 points), the University of North Carolina’s leading rebounder (1,219) and owns the record of most 20+ point games in ACC history, you should garner some sort of acclaim…or should you?
Entering the 2009 NBA draft, the indictment hovering over Tyler Hansbrough’s head was his abilities and if they could translate into next level. Maybe he doesn’t own the same attributes as his fellow power forward classmates Blake Griffin (athleticism) or DeJuan Blair (physicality/pillar in the paint), but he has the intangibles that set him apart from his counterparts, energy and effort. As a Tarheel, his motor maintained the same speed from tip-off to the game’s final second. From 2006-2009, whether it was rebounds, blocks, crashing the floor to maintain possession or a 15-foot jumper, Psycho T gave you his all. For some, his all was not enough.
Outside of teammates, Tarheel Nation, family and friends, not many were sure of him as player on the next level. One NBA team took a chance and bought into “Psychotic Behavior”. The Indiana Pacers spent their 13th pick on Hansbrough. Like many rookies before him, he struggled to find his way, battling injuries and limited playing time. Now in his second season, Hansbrough is coming into his own.
The path became clear January 7th, 2011 against the San Antonio Spurs, who are playing remarkably this season. In the narrow loss, Hansbrough turned in 23 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Despite a feverish path of double-digit and single-digit scoring nights, the one constant was those two “Es” (energy and effort) he displayed night in and night out. As of late, his scoring has complimented those intangiables of his that can’t be taught. Dating back to February 27th, Psycho T is on a seven-game, double-digit scoring streak. In the midst of that run, he’s snagged 10+ rebounds in three of those outings.
The Indiana Pacers are in a battle to maintain its grip on the eighth seed in Eastern Conference playoff bracket. Consistency from Psycho-T, along with cohesiveness throughout the team could secure that attainable spot.
Maybe Hansbrough is not in the running for an individual player award, but he will end the season with a moral victory. If nothing else, he could put on his hard hat for seasons to come, knowing what he did in college has translated into the NBA.
By Antoine Hoffman