- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 9, 2006

Jared Dudley estimates he watches about seven or eight hours of week of basketball, a considerable time investment for a man with practice, his own games and the occasional 20-page paper to crank out.

Throughout all his absorbing and analyzing of other teams, the Boston College forward probably hasn’t seen many players quite like himself.

Not that anyone else has, either.

Even as pure athleticism remains the surest way to capture attention, Dudley is a reminder of the value of a cerebral player who understands the game’s intricacies. And at 6-foot-7, Dudley is the perfect size to punish opponents unsure how to cope with a star whose Eagles (5-2) welcome No. 23 Maryland (9-1) to Conte Forum tomorrow.

“He’s an intelligent player,” Boston College coach Al Skinner said. “That’s the only way he’s able to play at this level. He’s not going to outjump, outrun or outshoot everyone. But he can make a point of trying to out-think someone as far as mental toughness. His competitiveness allows him to be a very good player.”

In retrospect, it is amazing recruiters all but ignored Dudley after a stellar high school career in San Diego. Creighton, St. Mary’s and San Diego State gave him a look, but Dudley decided to declare for a prep school while never planning to attend. He played in summer camps — overwhelming talented but inexperienced players — and Boston College swooped in.

A few months later he was starting in the Eagles’ opener, a spot he has maintained for 107 games. Dudley needs 17 points to pass Maryland assistant Michael Adams and crack the top 10 on BC’s career scoring list, and both he and teammate Sean Marshall are poised to break the school record for games started by the end of the regular season.

Dudley thrives with an approach best appreciated over several games rather than just one night. He hurts teams with equal ease from the perimeter and the post, a wingman and defensive nuisance capable of bruising play inside.

“I’m effective at making people play the way they don’t want to play,” Dudley said. “A lot of two-guards and three-guards are not usually comfortable guarding people in the post, and a lot of fours aren’t comfortable stepping out. I like going into the post knowing I’m going to pass the ball — that I’m going to square up and look for the open guy when I’m double-teamed. I like trying to outsmart people.”

Dudley leads the ACC in rebounding (9.3) and minutes (38.3), ranks third in scoring (19.1) and is in the top 10 in assists, steals, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. There is nothing he hasn’t done for the Eagles, who have won four straight since suffering back-to-back losses to Vermont and Providence.

His play last week encapsulated his flexibility.

Dudley scored 30 points in a victory over Michigan State while shredding a man defense. He drew more attention Saturday at Massachusetts and took only six shots, but still managed 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

“The average fan, if you only see him once, might wonder ‘What’s so special about him?’ and I understand that,” Skinner said. “The things he does don’t draw attention or appear in highlight films. He contributes in so many ways, depending on what you need — assists, rebounding, scoring, defense. Whatever you need that night, he’ll make up the difference for you.”

He’ll also energize teammates and fans with fiery on-court demeanor. Dudley quickly became a crowd target in the Eagles’ visit to Comcast Center last year when he barked at fans after making an early basket, a role he clearly relishes.

Throw in a derisive scowl and a penchant for physical play to complement his understanding of the sport and it leaves a player difficult for opponents to contain on several levels.

“That doesn’t bother me at all how he plays because he goes after it,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “If you get in the way, you get in the way. That’s why he’s good. He plays the same way every night.”

Dudley is intrigued at the prospect of finding a comparable player at the pro level and can analyze all the possibilities. In size and build, there’s Paul Pierce. Caron Butler is similar, though more athletic.

Tayshaun Prince plays much the same way but is taller.

Maybe the closest match is Shane Battier, another ACC player who did everything well.

He plans to find out for himself, but only after becoming part of the first four-year class in BC history to reach in the NCAA tournament every season.

Should it happen, it will be the latest triumph for a player who evolved from an overlooked player to a future pro because of a reliance on savvy and smarts.

“The key is time and patience, never forcing the action and just playing hard and playing to my style of play,” Dudley said. “Hopefully, it will pay off. I’ve been here four years and I’m still trying to end on a positive note. I know eventually I’ll play at the next level.”

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