Bhullar is big man on NMSU campus

Bhullar is big man on NMSU campus
March 20, 2013, 2:30 pm
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SAN JOSE -- The player cutting the largest figure -- both literally and figuratively -- on the floor at HP Pavilion during Wednesday's open practices?

Try New Mexico State freshman center Sim Bhullar, who is listed at 7-feet-5, 355 pounds, and who has blocked a school-record 82 shots thus far this season. No doubt he hopes to add to that total for the No. 13-seeded Aggies (24-10) in their Midwest Regional game Thursday against No. 4 seed Saint Louis (27-6).

And obviously, with his relative youth, Bhullar is still growing into his body.

"As he continues to develop and increases lower body strength, then you'll start to see his ability to play like a 6-10 kid or 6-8, 6-7 kid," said New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies. "And that's our hope, (that) his physical development would enable him to be a much better player. Right now, he's pretty doggone good as he is."

Consider: Bhullar is averaging 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.4 rebounds in 24.3 minutes and was named the WAC's freshman of the year.

He has scored 25 points against Missouri State, grabbed 18 rebounds at Texas-San Antonio, played 37 minutes against UTEP and five times blocked five shots.

His free throws? Not so much, as his 46.5 percent from the line attests.

Bhullar, who is from Toronto and of Indian Punjabi descent, has also lost 60 pounds in a year.

"It was one of my goals that I set for myself," Bhullar told the Las Cruces Sun-News. "Even the coaches are surprised I can play this many minutes. Since the beginning of the year, I have come a long way and lost a lot of weight, so playing 30 minutes is nothing for me now."

Indeed, Bhullar is no mere novelty, even if his appearance would make for a great "heel" in the raucous WWE world.

"I think he changes the whole game for us and other teams," said New Mexico State sophomore guard Daniel Mullings. "Because a lot of teams are not used to seeing that big of a size in there. And while guys are driving in, he's just a big force, just blocking everything, and altering shots.

"So it's a great advantage for us having him inside."

It's something for which the Billikins will have to adjust.

"I have a lot of improvement ahead of me," Bhullar said. "I haven't even scratched the surface yet of my game."

Midwest Regional
11:10 a.m. PT
No. 4-seed Saint Louis
27-6 overall, 13-3 in the A-10, ranked No. 13 in both A.P. an coaches polls
A-10 regular season and tournament champions
Keep an eye on: Junior forward Dwayne Evans (13.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg)
Best wins: New Mexico, Butler
Worst losses: Santa Clara, Washington

No. 13 New Mexico State
27-6 overall, 14-4 in the WAC
WAC tournament champions
Keep an eye on: Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings (14.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
Best wins: Louisiana Tech, Denver
Worst losses: Oregon State, UT-Arlington