Height is one of the main athletic components that gets associated with basketball, and rightfully so. A taller player will be able to see over shorter players, have an advantage in rebounding, and be able to get closer to the basket.
While height is a contributing factor to success in basketball, it may be overvalued.
“Like most schools, when we recruit two guys, it’s whoever says yes first,” Slippery Rock head coach Kevin Reynolds said. “I think at Duke, North Carolina and Indiana, places like that, height is probably a deciding factor.”
While the four tallest schools in the PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference)-West ,based on an average of all roster player’s heights, are the teams that sit in the top four spots, it may also have to deal with the fact that the conference is very close in terms of total team height.
Besides one player standing 6’10” in Edinboro’s Kameron Thurmond, every team’s tallest player measures between 6’8″ and 6’9″.
Between the tallest team (IUP) and the shortest (Seton Hill), there is only a difference of 0.7 inches.
Slippery Rock averages out to be the second-tallest team in the PSAC-West, which makes sense, as Reynolds has built a program that holds a titanic lead in rebounding margin (+10.3, second-best is +6.7) and always has one of the best scoring defenses in the country
“Not only the height of the player but the length of the player, the wingspan, because that’s a big part of what everyone is looking for: tall, athletic players that have length.” Reynolds said.
Height, however, is not all-important to Reynolds, who pointed out that some of the PSAC’s best players fall below the six foot mark.
“One of the better players in our league, [Ethan] Ridgeway from Kutztown is 5’10, he was all conference last year and he is one of the better players in Division II,” Reynolds said. “There is still a good spot on the floor for a good small player.”
Ridgeway isn’t even the only good all-conference player who is under six feet either.
“[Dante] Lombardi from IUP is 5’11 as well. You can add Darren Clancy from UPJ, those are three really good players, just off the top of my head.” Reynolds said.
Slippery Rock only has one player on the roster listed under six feet tall, junior guard Gabe Mack. Despite being regularly being the shortest guy on the floor, a feeling which Mack said he is used to in a preseason interview, he has appeared in every game for The Rock with one start, averaging 13 minutes per game. Mack had two points, two assits, and two rebounds versus Pittsburgh on November fourth, a team whose average height is 6’5″.
The situation for PSAC schools is different than it would be for many Division I schools, who may have many good players to choose from, and some of those may be taller than others. But for Division II schools, pure size is rarely the focus.
“At our level, smaller Division I and Division II, we take the player that is the most excited about coming to your school and ready to do it. ” Reynolds said.