Mar 11, 2012; Atlantic City, NJ, USA; St. Bonaventure Bonnies forward Andrew Nicholson (44) rejects shot of Xavier Musketeers center Kenny Frease (32) during the second half in the finals of the 2012 Atlantic 10 Tournament at Boardwalk Hall. St. Bonaventure Bonnies defeat the Xavier Musketeers 67-56. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Prospect Feature: Andrew Nicholson

The Cleveland Cavaliers hold two first round picks in the 2012 NBA Draft. The first, the number four overall pick, gives the Cavs an opportunity to add a bona fide side kick to compliment Kyrie Irving. Whether it is Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, or someone else, the player picked at number four will be expected to become the Scottie Pippen-type player that the Cavs never truly

had in the LeBron James era.

The other first round pick, which comes at number twenty-four overall, is an opportunity to grab a player who can become a key player on the roster. Assuming the first pick is a wing player, this second pick will most likely be a power forward or center. Prospects that could be available at pick twenty-four include Syracuse center Fab Melo, Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger, and Iowa State power forward Royce White.

But above the other names, St. Bonaventure senior power forward/center Andrew Nicholson appears to be the most likely to land in Cleveland. Both and have him being selected by the Cavaliers with their second first round pick.

Nicholson stands 6’9, weights 234 pounds, and has a 7’4 wingspan. A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Nicholson first came to the States when he began playing at St. Bonaventure in 2008. A two star recruit out of the Canadian prep scene, it’s actually quite remarkable that he has gotten to this point in his basketball career.

At St. Bonaventure, Nicholson was the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year as a freshman, second team All-Atlantic 10 as a sophomore and junior, as well first team All-Atlantic 10, Atlantic 10 First Defensive Team, and the Atlantic 10 player of the year as a senior. He was also an honorable mention on the NCAA All-American Team, as well as Atlantic 10 Tournament MVP. For his college career, Nicholson averaged 17.2 points per game, shot 57.5% from the field, grabbed 7.2 rebounds per game, and blocked 2.0 shots a game. had this two say about Nicholson:

Andrew Nicholson has an interesting set of physical tools with his size and length to go along with an offensive skill-set that shows plenty of room for growth. On top of that, he appears to be an extremely intelligent person off the court (he’s a physics major), and didn’t start playing basketball until his junior year of high school.

Nicholson came into this season with huge expectations, both individually and team-wise, but hasn’t taken the step forward some had hoped he would. NBA decision makers will need to figure out why in trying to evaluate how much better he could become in the next few years, to decide if he’s a project worth investing in.”

In terms of how he fits in with the Cavs, I think he’d fit in well. He’d have to play right away (as the Cavs only have Anderson Varejao, Samardo Samuels, and Tristian Thompson as viable big men. Nicholson’s ability to play both power forward and center would be a great asset with this Cavs squad, he it would allow Byron Scott with his line ups. If Nicholson does indeed become a Cavalier, you could be him playing the four if Varejao is at the 5, the four if Thompson is at the five, and five if the Cavs decide to go small. Essentially, his versatility allows Scott to be creative with his line ups, as well as have the ability to match up well with any type of lineup.

Nicholson is undoubtedly raw, as he as only been playing basketball for six years. But if he reaches his full potential, he could a solid, 19 and 10 big man like Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz. If that’s the case, and David Stern does indeed call Nicholson’s name at pick twenty-four, then the Cavs will have selected a key piece to the championship puzzle.

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