Stanford's Josh Huestis: A Name to Remember for 2012-13

Peter ChenContributor IIIApril 4, 2012

Josh Huestis (24): 43 blocks in 2011-12 (AP Photo, David Zalubowski).
Josh Huestis (24): 43 blocks in 2011-12 (AP Photo, David Zalubowski).

The Kentucky Wildcats are NCAA champs and their dominating shot-blocking center Anthony Davis was the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and Naismith Player of the Year. Now, here’s a name to remember for defensive highlights next season—Josh Huestis. 

Who is Josh Huestis? He’s one of coach Johnny Dawkins’ super sophomores at Stanford, which shares with Kentucky the distinction of ending the 2011-12 season as postseason champs, having smoked Minnesota at MSG for the NIT championship last week. 

More about Huestis. The 2010 Gatorade POY in Montana, he’s 6’7" and has a pterodactyl-like wingspan. 

He led the Cardinal in rebounds in the NIT title win over Minnesota, after putting up eight points, five boards and three blocks in only 18 minutes in the semifinal victory over UMass, and 12 points and two blocks in just 20 minutes in the quarterfinal win over Nevada. 

He started only five games for the 26-11 Cardinal, averaging slightly more than 20 minutes per game. Yet despite the limited minutes, he will be Stanford’s leading returning rebounder (4.8 per game) and by far their best returning shot-blocker, as he led the team with 43 blocks in 2011-12, including four in one game against eventual conference champ Colorado.

Huestis’s length, hops, timing and shot-blocking instincts are, at times, reminiscent of Anthony Davis. Huestis can block shots of taller opponents and he can force opponents to alter their shots. 

On offense, Huestis is still a work in progress. He averaged 5.3 points per game, shooting a respectable 44 percent from the floor and displaying some explosive moves to the basket. His three-point (28 percent) and free-throw shooting (51 percent) have lots of room for improvement.  

Huestis blocks v UMass in NIT semifinals.
Huestis blocks v UMass in NIT semifinals.Jason Szenes/Getty Images

Does this profile remind you of any former Stanford players? As in, New York Knicks’ star, Landry Fields?

In his first two years on The Farm, Fields was a good defender but shot only 36 percent and averaged barely four PPG. By his senior year, he improved his shooting and scoring markedly and was first team All-Conference (averaging 22 points and nine rebounds per game). 

The same offensive awakening could happen for Huestis as he focuses on his free throws and develops his shooting range.

 Next season, Coach Dawkins will return in addition to Huestis, four starters from the NIT champions—guards Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright, along with wing Anthony Brown and forward Dwight Powell. With the Pac-12 in its current state of relative disrepair, the Cardinal’s stability and talent makes it a viable challenger for next season’s Pac-12 title.

 Josh Huestis. Remember that name.