It’s Camp Season, How Do You Stand Out if You’re a Big Man
By Jamie Shaw
Walking into a camp the big man naturally has the edge. It is unique to be 6’7” or taller, roughly 0.45% of the world’s population is this tall. So walking into the gym, naturally a big man turns heads. However, being a big man can play against you. Once the ball is tipped, all eyes (scouts, coaches and fans alike) will all be on you. With no fault of your own, being tall can also exacerbate any flaws you may have. There are a lot of other factors, outside of being big, that turn heads.
Yesterday we took time to write about how a guard stands out at camp. It took an in-depth look at, the mentality you need in order to walk into a camp, when you’re the same size as everyone else, and leave with coaches and scouts talking about you (Click Here to Read the Article).
This is Phenom Hoops’ 14th year of running high level exposure camps. Over the years thousands upon thousands of players have walked through our doors, from all over the country. Phenom Hoops’ is in the unique position of hosting exposure camps as well as being nationally recognized scouts who offer an NCAA compliant recruiting service to college coaches. Our goal is help everyone, to not only provide the incredible platform to get seen, but to also help out everyone out in the recruiting process, as much as we can.
Even over the last ten years, the big man’s role has changed so drastically. In the overall scheme of things, it was only a short time ago when rosters were filled with the likes of Rick Mahorn, Horace Grant and even Kendrick Perkins.
However, over the past ten years there has been a shift in the skill set needed by bigs. You could start to see shades of it, especially defensively, Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwan. They brought a different type of athleticism, an ability to move their feet and switch on defense. The shift in big men really didn’t start to take place until the early 2000s, with Kevin Garnett. Whereas prior to Garnett, big men were still on the block guys. Garnett stretched things out offensively, along with being able to switch and move his feet defensively.
Even still, during the Kevin Garnett era, players like Andrew Bynum, Andrew Bogut and Emeka Okafor were still getting drafted high. Then an all time move was made, Kevin Durant entered the league, and everything changed. Even during Durant’s draft, value was placed on players such as Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Brendan Wright. Players who could face the basket on offense as well as move their feet and switch on defense.
Now look at the list of the top bigs in the NBA, you see names like Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Myles Turner, etc…You have guys like Enes Kanter and Jahlil Okafor, who would have thrived 20 years ago, coming off the bench, finding spot minutes. Then you have long and athletic players like Javale McGee and Clint Capela, with almost no offensive skill set, finding major roles with playoff level teams.
So this has been a long winded way to get into how you stand out amongst the crowd as a big man.
Charles Barkley said it best when he said, “I’ve got a technique for rebounder, it’s called go get the damn ball.” Rebounding is all about desire. Throughout the course of an NCAA basketball game there are, on average, around 80 rebounds the come off per game. That is 80 opportunities to extend your teams possessions or to end the oppositions opportunities. Possessions are incredibly important during the course of a game, a player’s ability to rebound will also be of value.
Rebounding is also one of the skills that translate from level to level. If you are big man, who walks out on the floor and gobbles up rebounds you will immediately become a valuable asset to any coach, regardless of your offensive skill set. Players like Andre Drummond and Marcin Gortat will continue to find their way into contracts based on their ability to rebound.
2. PROTECT THE RIM
Naturally the offenses object is the score the ball. The defenses object is to prevent teams from scoring. Being a shot blocker helps with the defenses objective in more ways that just the obvious erasing shots. Have a rim protector enables the defense to gamble more and apply pressure up top. Players coming into the lane have to think twice as they get closer to the shot blockers, shot arc. Obviously, players are much more confident the closer to the basket they get, a major shot eraser makes players uncomfortable, in their comfort zones.
Players like Deandre Jordan, Hassan Whiteside and Rudy Gobert are NBA all stars who are considered elite because of their ability to shot block and rebound. They are both considered tough guy things, things that take a tough effort in order to become good at. However, regardless of any shortcomings these three players may have on the offensive end, they all are considered game changing players.
3. SHOW THE MAKINGS OF A GO-TO MOVE
Once you have the base of toughness to rebound and the ability to chase blocked shots, coaches will want to look at your offensive skill set. Again, with there only being 0.45% of the world standing 6’7” or taller, offensively, all the coaches want to see is the makings of a go-to move on the block. A simple jump hook over your left shoulder, or an up and under move on the block will suffice. Even if you are an elite rebounder/shot blocker rim running off the screen and sitting in the short corner catching lobs may be enough for some.
Now as a player advances their skill set will need to expand. Once you get to a level where everyone is athletic, developing a counter move to the go-to will happen. But there is time there. A simple go-to move from inside of 10 feet with travel far with coaches and scouts watching.
We know that each of these traits sounds simple. However, many reading will be surprised at how many big men come into camp and don’t show any effort around the basket.
Throughout all the years the championship winning 5-man has shifted from the likes of Rick Mahorn to Kevin Durant. The look of the big man has changed, however the basic skill set of the big man is actually not all the different. Last season, former league MVP Kevin Durant won his first NBA championship. He, along with Draymond Green, were switched into playing the 5-man a lot during the run and Durant averaged career highs in rebounds (8.3) and blocked shots (1.6).
When coaches are scouting big men, they look at how the player’s toughness. They make sure he can rebound and protect the paint. When the look on the offensive end, a player needs to have a go-to move on the block. Of course, once you get past these basic fundamentals then the coaches will take into account the shooting ability or leaping ability, however none of that matters if they don’t rebound or protect the paint.
A quick example of this from our Phenom Camps is Gary Clark. Clark had a lot of questions about his game in high school due to his size, he was a 6’7” power forward. Even though Clark put up monster numbers in high school, had questions. During his performance at the 2012 NC Phenom 150 Exposure Camp we wrote, “Clark can easily play all positions on the floor at the high school level. He has exceptional ball handling and passing skills for his size/position. He can finish with either hand and attack from either side. He has long arms and is an effective shot blocker. He possesses power, speed, and quickness. He is a great teammate and is very coachable.” Long time trusted National Analyst Rick Lewis raved about his relentless defensive, length and athleticism.
Now Clark is heading into his senior season at Cincinnati. In his three seasons Clark has started 101 games, been named American Athletic Conference (AAC) Defensive Player of the Year, started in three NCAA Tournaments and amassed an overall record of 75-27. He is an All AAC second team performer and came in second in the conference with three offensive rebounds per game.
Even though there are numerous stories like this one that we can share from Phenom’s Exposure Camps, we feel like we have to put in the disclaimer that Frankie is a special talent, so not everyone can expect to show up to a Phenom Camp, get written about by our scouts and then go D1. But if you show up and are a vocal leader, who defends with a purpose and plays with a non-stop motor you will most certainly turn numerous heads.
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