SAN JOSE -- The biggest story Wednesday at HP Pavilion was Syracuse being investigated by the NCAA for major rules violations.
The biggest player? New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar.
The redshirt freshman, who is from Canada and of Indian descent, is 7-foot-5 and 355 pounds.
He's the biggest player in college basketball but 60 pounds lighter than he was in high school, before getting serious about his diet and taking yoga.
The added endurance, combined with soft hands and surprisingly nimble feet, have turned Bhullar into a force on the court.
He was named MVP of the Western Athletic Conference tournament last week after scoring 16 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking five shots in a victory over UT Arlington in the championship game.
New Mexico State, the No. 13 seed in the Midwest, will play No. 4 Saint Louis on Thursday at 11:10 a.m.
"He has phenomenal hands, and he's very coordinated,'' NMSU associate head coach Paul Weir said. "It was a question of his weight ... his nutrition was horrible, and Sim worked his (butt) off.''
Bhullar was not available for comment Wednesday, per team policy. But his story is worth telling.
Bhullar, whose parents are from India — his father, Avtar, is 6-foot-5, according to a New York Times report — grew up in Toronto.
He played AAU basketball, attended prep school and committed to Xavier two years ago. But
It would seem to be an odd fit — a 7-foot-5 Canadian attending college in remote Las Cruces, N.M. -- except that Weir attended college with Bhullar's sister and has a relationship with his AAU coach.
Whether it's restaurants or airports, Bhullar attracts a crowd.
"I feel bad for him, but he's very polite,'' Weir said. "It's constant. There are pictures all over the place.''
Bhullar, whose younger brother, Tanveer, is reportedly 7-foot-2, has become something of a celebrity in India. They were swarmed on 2011 trip.
"He went back, and he and his brother — it was like the Pope had arrived,'' Weir said. "They are well aware and proud of their heritage.''