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Statistical Anomaly

Attending combines and getting verified measurements can be extremely beneficial to recruits. Coaches love to see metrics on players to help with their evaluation process.  But remember that ultimately coaches still want players who can succeed at their level of competition.  Players can always compensate for one missing element by excelling in others.  The Wall Street Journal broke down one college basketball’s best rebounders to reveal his astounding production given his size.

In addition to being a contender for the NCAA title, the Panthers are also a curious statistical anomaly. They’re one of the best rebounding teams in college basketball, yet they have only one player on the roster taller than 6 foot 8 — and that guy doesn’t play. Overall, they’re the shortest team in the top 10.

College basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy, who measures team rebounding percentages, says Pitt ranks No. 15 in defensive rebounding and No. 1 in offensive rebounds, averaging about 30% more offensive boards than the average team. This can be attributed almost entirely to one person: sophomore DeJuan Blair.

Though just 6 foot 7, Mr. Blair is a beast on the boards. When Pitt is on offense and there’s a ball up for grabs, Mr. Blair pulls down the rebound a whopping 25% of the time. That’s almost twice as often as Oklahoma rebound machine Blake Griffin, who’s three inches taller.

Mr. Blair isn’t just the best inch-for-inch rebounder in the college ranks this season; he’s also the best Mr. Pomeroy has ever measured by a margin of nearly five percentage points. How Mr. Blair does this isn’t entirely a mystery. He has a better than seven-foot wingspan, and at 265 pounds, he outweighs most NFL tight ends. He’s also built for rebounding with a backside roughly the size of a Nissan.

On the flip side, I don’t want to spread false hope. Some athletes are truly better off playing at different division levels.  However, some of the most talented athletes in the country just don’t fit into the “typical” mold.  Athletes in this group will naturally be overlooked.  As Mr. Blair’s situation proves those athletes have a chance to play at an elite level, but they need to really push to maximize their recruiting potential by looking and exhausting every option.

About the author
Aaron Sorenson