Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Telep’s Top 10: Best rebounders
By Dave Telep
As talent evaluators, we have our biases. Over the course of my 16 years in basketball recruiting, I’ve developed a huge bias toward rebounders.
I once learned a difficult lesson. In 2001, Emeka Okafor led the city of Houston with an average of 18.8 rebounds per game. That number comes right off the top of my head. I’ll never forget it. Even knowing that statistic, admittedly, I came up woefully short with Okafor’s ranking. At the time, he was tagged No. 81 in the country. He couldn’t score, but boy could he rebound and reject shots.
From the debacle of the Okafor ranking, a lesson was learned: rebounding translates. It’s why I voted for DeJuan Blair for the McDonald’s All-American Game as a senior, even though he didn’t make it. It’s also why I’m as committed as anyone to the guys who hang big board numbers. It’s the one statistic that shouldn’t be overlooked because it demonstrates activity, toughness and willingness to remain engaged no matter the score. You average 18 rebounds a game, that’s serious business.
One more anecdote on why board work is important in recruiting: Rebounding is why Will Yeguete is a Florida Gator. In the fall of his senior year, Yeguete grabbed 50 rebounds in the span of three games at the Nike Team Florida Fall Workout. A week later, Tom Crean flew a private plane to see him and offered. St. John’s brought him in for a visit. And a month later, Florida offered him a scholarship. If he doesn’t rebound, he’s not in the SEC.
This is a list-oriented column, so before we get to the top 10 rebounders currently among the prep prospect ranks, here’s a peak at my all-time high school top five. It was tough to leave off guys like Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, Shelden Williams and Kevin Bookout (whom we renamed Kevin “Boxout” at the time), but this all-time top five is a fun list:
1. DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh)
2. Kevin Love (UCLA)
3. Greg Oden (Ohio State)
4. Donnell Harvey (Florida)
5. Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)
Jahlil Okafor, ranked No. 2 overall in the 2014 class, is a monster on the boards.
Is there a current high school player capable of cracking that all-time list? My gut says no. But making this list of the top 10 rebounders currently in high school hoops isn’t too shabby.
1. Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian)
2013, PF, 6-9, 225
Uncommitted His greatness as a rebounder comes from tenacity and his punishing body type. He’s a great rebounder on both ends of the floor. Even though he’s out for the year with an injury, Randle makes No. 1 on this list with his body of work on the boards.
2. Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young)
2014, C, 6-9, 270
Uncommitted Having charted him a lot, I can tell you he’s always flirting with 15 boards a game. He reminds me of Jared Sullinger as a rebounder.
3. Dakari Johnson (New York, N.Y./Montverde)
2013, C, 6-10, 250
Committed to Kentucky He doesn’t have a loud game, but over the last year he’s been consistently putting up great numbers in this category and his slimmed-down frame allows him to be more active while keeping a strong base.
4. Jarrell Martin (Baton Rouge, La./Madison Prep)
2013, PF, 6-7, 210
Signed with LSU You could put him as high as No. 3 on the list without much argument and he could be in the conversation with Noah Vonleh in terms of offensive rebounding prowess.
5. Kevon Looney (Milwaukee/Hamilton)
2014, PF, 6-7, 185
Uncommitted He’s mastered his craft. Looney has a live body and strong will to go after loose balls coming off the rim. His body style is unique and he unfurls his arms in traffic. His wide shoulders do nothing but help him.
Indiana signee Noah Vonleh might be the best offensive rebounder in the country.
6. Noah Vonleh (Haverhill, Mass./New Hampton Prep)
2013, PF, 6-8, 220
Signed with Indiana Vonleh is a candidate for the best offensive rebounder in the country. He’s not the tallest guy on this list, but his length is a major weapon and he’ll go get it in traffic.
7. Devin Williams (Cincinnati/Montverde)
2013, PF, 6-8, 220
Signed with West Virginia A high-motor guy, Williams’ game has flourished alongside Johnson at Montverde. Truth is, he cut his teeth as a rebounder long before he headed south for his senior year. However, now he’s a full-fledged monster on the glass.
8. Marcus Lee (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley)
2013, PF, 6-9, 200
Signed with Kentucky Coming off the summer, you wouldn’t have put him this high on the list of best rebounders. However, he’s pulling an Emeka Okafor and averaging high teens as a senior.
9. Rondae Jefferson (Chester, Pa./Chester)
2013, SF, 6-7, 215
Signed with Arizona The only wing player to crack the top 10, Jefferson won’t hang the same numbers as some of the aircraft carriers on the list, but I wouldn’t want to get in his way. His game must include rebounding and he tends to hawk the rim for stick-backs and dunks. He and Josh Hart (Washington, D.C./Sidwell Friends) are two of the best rebounding wings in the country.
10. Kennedy Meeks (Charlotte, N.C./West Charlotte)
2013, C, 6-9, 275
Signed with North Carolina As a sophomore, Meeks pulled down 21 rebounds in the state championship game. He hasn’t yet mastered conditioning and that holds him back, but keep track of his boards and you’ll notice he’s a volume guy who turns and sizzles big-time outlet passes. The irony is fellow UNC signee Isaiah Hicks is nipping on his heels to replace him on this list.