Men’s college basketball hasn’t had a player average more than 15.0 rebounds in more than four decades. Might we see two players do it this season?
Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe and Utah Valley’s Fardaws Aimaq each have a shot to become the first since Alcorn’s Larry Smith (18.1 rpg) in 1979-80 to snag more than 15.0 boards per game. Aimaq, in fact, averaged exactly 15.0 rebounds last season, albeit in only 20 games against D-I teams. (Doing it vs. a full schedule would qualify as a smidge more proper.)
While there have been superb carom-snaggers this century, the era of the dominant, game-changing rebounder has been gone so long from the college game it may as well be extinct. Tshiebwe and Aimaq are here to revive the role out of the amber. Tshiebwe leads the nation in rebound average (15.4); he’s No. 1 in offensive-rebound rate (27.6%) and No. 2 in defensive (34.4%). He also has seven double-doubles — tied with Aimaq (14.8 rpg) for most in the sport.
In the preseason, Tshiebwe said his goal was to average 20 rebounds. CBS Sports caught up with him Tuesday night after Kentucky’s 76-64 win over Southern. He was happy with the W, of course, but let down because he fell short of his every-game objective: Tshiebwe finished with 11 boards. Oh, he had a game-high 23 points, too. But we talked about the rebounds and that preseason proclamation.
“I’m guaranteeing again I can do it,” he said. “My goal is to go for 20 every time. I fight all the time for 20. When I don’t get it, it’s good we won, but I feel like I didn’t [fulfill] my purpose.”
Tshiebwe runs instant calculations in his head every time a shot goes up.
“If someone shoots from the right, it’s a