April 29, 2011
The biggest recruit in Xavier basketball history doesn't appear among Rivals.com's top-150 players in the Class of 2012, nor is he likely to make any high school all-American teams next spring.
Meet 7-f00t-5 Sim Bhullar, a massive center who believe it or not has trimmed down to 338 pounds after beginning his junior season at Huntington Prep (W.Va.) at well over 350. Bhullar ended his recruitment Thursday night when he told Xavier coach Chris Mack he intends to play for the Musketeers.
"Xavier just felt like a real close family," Bhullar told Rivals affiliate Musketeerscoop.com. "I knew I wanted to continue to work on my game and develop at Xavier."
While Bhullar's hulking frame and ridiculous 8-foot-2 wingspan are certainly his most headline-grabbing attributes, he's certainly more than just a gimmick. He has terrific hands, deft passing ability and a knack for blocking shots, traits he shares with 7-foot-3 younger brother Tanveer.
What will likely determine whether Bhullar ever taps into any of his upside is if he can get into good enough shape to run the floor and avoid injury. The last player of his size to play in college basketball was UNC Asheville's Kenny George, the 7-foot-7 center who averaged 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds as a sophomore but had to retire as a result of chronic foot injuries.
As Bhullar has lost weight and gained the ability to stay on the court for up to 10 minutes at a time, he's also had to learn to stay out of foul trouble. His AAU coach, Mike George, praised Bhullar for staying active defensively yet making the proper decision when to go for a blocked shot.
"He's become much more disciplined on defense," George told Musketeerscoop.com. "He understands now that he doesn't have to jump to block every shot. He just needs to stay on the ground and be big. He's done a really good job of staying out of foul trouble and staying on the floor. He's always had a good basketball IQ and I just think now he's starting to figure it out and put it all together. "