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Know the Prospect: Artsiom Parakhouski

First of all, thanks to all of y'all who have been contributing "Know the Prospect" profiles. Keep it up, friends. The posts written so far have been primarily about guards, which makes sense. The Knicks could use another body in the backcourt, and Donnie Walsh will likely look in that direction come draft night. New York's got two picks in the second round, though, and the Knicks are desperately in need of some size. There will be a handful of giantfolk available when the Knicks pick, and one of them will be named Art.

Artsiom "Art" Parakhouski is a 6'11'', 260 pound Belarusian center for the Radford Highlanders. Some thoughts, right off the bat:

1. 6'11'', 260 lbs. is bigger than any Knick not named Eddy Curry. This is good.

2. Belarus = "White Russia". Possible nickname: "The White Russian". Possible MSG concession item: White Russians.

3. Highlanders!?

Moving on, Parakhouski's story is a familiar one. Young Art was never much of a baller until his growth spurt hit...and he just kept on growing. From a January Sports Illustrated article:

Big Art, as he's known at Radford, played soccer until he was 16, but he literally outgrew the game.

Basketball was the next logical step for a thick, 6-8 high schooler, but Parakhouski had never played the game.

"I was terrible," Parakhouski said. "I couldn't dribble. I couldn't shoot. I couldn't do anything with basketball at that moment."

But he developed some skills, and was spotted at the under-20 European Junior Championships in 2005 by Ali Ton, then an assistant at Binghamton. Ton suggested Parakhouski enroll at the College of Southern Idaho, where he could learn both English and basketball. So the Belarusian bid his family farewell and moved to the U.S. without being able to speak any English.

Art found his way to Radford University in Virginia, where he towered over the "Big" South competition. Check out his Draft Express profile:

His size affords him a ton of success against the average NCAA center, and he’s become especially decisive on the block. His poise on the block and ability to get to the line account for his increased scoring average, but Parakhouski continues to show flashes of potential as a shooter.

Usually able to take what the defense gives him, turn into contact, and finish, Parakhouski shows soft touch on the occasions that he goes to his turnaround jumper. Until he develops a more consistent hook shot, he’ll need to improve his ability to hit his turnaround jumpers to compensate for the more physically gifted NBA defenders he won’t be able to seal with a simple drop step.

His jump shot currently features a low release point and little in the way of rhythm- two things he’ll need to work on in the future. If Parakhouski can develop a go-to-move on the block, it will ease his transition to the NBA considerably.

Not bad at all. Parakhouski sounds like a fellow with a surprisingly polished offensive game considering his limited experience. Most of Art's work was done against smaller competition, but the DX profile specifically mentions a match-up with Cole Aldrich as evidence that the big guy's developing some game, and not banking on size alone. This bodes well for NBA competition. Unfortunately, Parakhouski's defensive reviews are not as thrilling. Again, from that DX profile:

Defensively, Parakhouski has shown some improvement this season, largely due to the improvements he’s made to his body—which looks significantly better. He appears more comfortable making rotations from the weakside, which has allowed him to block more shots based on his size. However, his lack of lateral quickness will likely limit his defensive presence on the next level.

His physical strength allows him play effective one-on-one defensive in the post, and he shows active feet playing in the middle of Radford’s zone, but he isn’t fluid or explosive enough to project as a surefire quality defender just yet.

Since the Knicks desperately need some shot-blocking, the question with Parakhouski is whether he's got room to develop on that front. Mock drafts have Art falling well past the Knicks, and a superior weak side defender like Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado might be a better fit. Even offensively, Parakhouski's game sounds promising, but not necessarily suited to a D'Antoni offense in which big men either shoot from outside or run the floor like stallions. Look no further than the brief Eddy Curry experiment to see how back-to-the-basket centers work in D'Antoniball. You might even say I've wasted my time researching a guy like Artsiom Parakhouski. My apologies. Would it make you feel any better if I showed you a slideshow of Parakhouski action shots that is set to John Cafferty's "Heart's on Fire" and inexplicably includes photos of Ivan Drago and quotations from Rocky IV? I thought so.

My favorite part is how the Drago headshots are superimposed on the backboard or over the action, as if the fictional character is some sort of divine, omniscient entity that watches over Parakhouski's college career. Basically, this whole post was a vehicle for that gem of a video. Art Parakhouski seems cool enough, but I don't think he fits the Knicks needs. I looked for some video that actually illustrated his skill set, but the best I could do was confirm that he once hit a free throw. Oh well. Thanks for reading!