- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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I was listening to the radio on my way back from Atlanta Tuesday, when I stumbled across an interesting debate.
The question posed to listeners: In the past 10 years, what NBA player would you take to build your franchise around?
The choices? Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan.
I’d have to go with Duncan, who won four championships with the San Antonio Spurs, three coming in five years. Also, he’s never been a head case, he’s extremely unselfish, he’s easy to coach and he’s the definition of a leader.
Obviously, this question instantly caused a heated radio dispute and it got me to thinking: What current SEC athlete would I choose to build my program around?
With the talent in this league, this isn’t exactly an easy question to answer. Do I go with the quarterback who has all the tools to be a star in this league, like Georgia’s Aaron Murray, or has a cannon for an arm like Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson? What about a bruising running back like Alabama’s Trent Richardson or South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore?
Or can you build your program around a defensive player? Chris Marve’s Vanderbilt team might not be near the top of the pack in the conference, but he’s a great leader and an All-SEC performer. Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower seems to have returned to form and could be one of the top linebackers in the league.
It wasn’t easy, but after taking almost 24 hours to think I’ve found my program builder.
My finalists were Lattimore and Murray. Lattimore might be best power running back around and he made play after play last season when the Gamecocks’ passing game struggled. He had nearly 1,200 rushing yards and ran for 17 touchdowns.
However, I want to build my program around a quarterback and Murray appears to have it all. He can run, throw and certainly earned a ton of respect as a gamer during his first year in Athens, Ga.
Murray finished the 2010 season with 3,049 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to eight interceptions. He also netted 167 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
While the Bulldogs went 6-7 last season, Murray was without his best weapon in A.J. Green for the first four games. Georgia lost three of those.
I want my program builder to not only be a quality player, but I want him to be a leader. Murray developed into more of one throughout last season and didn’t drop off this spring.
What say you, Chris? If you had one current SEC player to pick, whom would you build your program around?