Hilltopper Hysteria showcases WKU’s depth

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Mar 22, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers forward George Fant (44) scores over Kansas Jayhawks forward Jamari Traylor (31) in the first half during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

If there was one area of concern in regards to depth, the post would definitely be the place. Aside from all-conference player George Fant and junior Aleksej Rostov, the Tops lack experience in the post. If one of those two miss significant time with an injury, the season could quickly go downhill, so health and rest should be a priority.

Fant will once again be expected to control the paint, as he has done since his freshman year. The 6’6″ forward averaged 13.3 points and led the team with 6.6 rebounds per game last year, and could finish his career on the Hill in the school’s top ten in rebounding. When the game slows down and the jumpers aren’t falling for the Toppers, Harper goes to Fant for a spark. He is a typical blue-collar post player, doing the dirty work every game to make sure his team wins. Fant is the heart and soul of the Toppers, and usually if he plays well, the team comes out with a victory.

Rostov experienced a sophomore slump in the first half of last season, before missing the final 16 games with a blood clot. With his medical issues resolved, Rostov will be relied upon to return to his freshman form, when he excelled in the high post. Rostov can stretch the floor, creating opportunities for Fant down low. If WKU wants to be successful this year, Rostov must be a second scoring option in the post, taking some of the workload from Fant.

Lawson and Johnson will back up Fant and Rostov. Although he didn’t play much his freshman season, Lawson showed good potential. Lawson arrived at the Hill incredibly raw, but has put on some muscle this summer while playing for Great Britain. Like Rostov, he can stretch the floor and at 7’1″ can offer a shot-blocking presence that WKU hasn’t had since Jeremy Evans. Johnson, although a freshman, looks ready to go physically and should make an impact from day one. He finished his high school career with 1,519 rebounds, good for sixth-most in state history, and WKU will rely on him to be a presence on the boards, especially when Fant isn’t in the game.