Last weekend, Scooby Wright took a photo with Sean Miller while T.J. McConnell took a photo with Rich Rodiguez. This combination led Arizona Athletics to wonder whether Scooby would make a better basketball player or T.J. would make a better football player:
Ok, if @TwoStarScoob played for @APlayersProgram and @iPass4Zona played for @ArizonaFBall, who would be better? pic.twitter.com/kAnKB1M5nz— Arizona Athletics (@AZATHLETICS) April 15, 2015
So let's take a mildly serious look at who would fare better.
6'1", 195 pounds
Potential Position: Defensive back, probably corner. Maybe quarterback.
Analysis: Rich Rodriguez suggested that T.J. McConnell could play defensive back, and he's probably right. He's about the right size and he has the speed to at least compete at the position. He might also consider playing quarterback. He's big enough to play the position in college and he's a good decision maker. And though I can imagine him as an option quarterback, he's from Pittsburgh, which makes him genetically predisposed to play quarterback.
I worry, though, about his mentality. When McConnell was in fifth grade, he tried football, but stopped playing after a hard hit. Those hits will keep coming if he plays football. I guess he could still play as a cover corner (which would reduce those hits), and T.J. has always been willing to sacrifice his body on the basketball court, but his inability to take a hit when he was in fifth grade raises serious questions about his toughness.
Scooby Wright III
6'1", 246 pounds
Potential Position: Extremely short small or power forward
Analysis: A number of basketball players have successfully transitioned from basketball to football. Antonio Gates famously played power forward at Kent State and became a Hall of Fame-caliber tight end. Tony Gonzalez likewise played basketball at Cal. Even Arizona has gotten in on the action, with former power forward Fendi Onobun becoming an NFL tight end. My first instinct, then, was to try to convert Scooby the other way and make him a power forward or small forward.
The problem is that Scooby doesn't have the size of those other guys. He's wide, sure, but he's only 6'1", which makes him shorter than Gabe York. I can't think of any college-level forward who is anywhere near that short. And his size will slow him down and make it very difficult to put him at guard. There's really no position that he could guard on the basketball court. Scooby could make for a pretty good small forward or power forward in a pick-up game, where the biggest dude out there is only three or four inches taller than him. But in high level college basketball? It just isn't going to happen.
T.J. McConnell is the winner. While I have no doubt Scooby would work very hard to make himself a better basketball player, the only way he could do that at his height would be to drop weight, which would negate some of his best physical skills. He just isn't suited to play basketball. T.J., meanwhile, would find a place to play, probably at cornerback, just because he has the size and athleticism to play the position. Very good college point guards have converted to football before, so I think T.J. is a better bet playing football than Scooby would be at basketball.