By George: Tallest College Basketball Player Wows Columbus Fans

Scott MilesSenior Analyst IMarch 18, 2008

How tall is 7-foot-7 Kenny George of UNC-Asheville?

So tall that his head almost grazes the bottom of the net when he walks underneath the basket.

So tall that his warm-up jersey didn’t even reach his belly button.

So tall that everyone at the Schott tonight gawked at him and took pictures during pregame warmups.

So tall that the basketball looks like a tennis ball in his hands.

So tall that OSU’s 7-foot center Kosta Koufos doesn’t even reach George’s neck when they stand side-by-side.

I sat courtside at the OSU-UNC Asheville NIT game earlier tonight, keeping stats. Every eye in the arena was on George just about the entire night. And trust me, he isn’t hard to miss. He might have been the most amazing basketball player that I have ever seen in person, and that counts many NBA players, including LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

His presence on the court is breathtaking. I commented to my fellow statisticians that he sure took up a lot of the paint on defense, and one answered, “He is the paint.”

George is by no means athletic. His physical conditioning is really nonexistent, as you could visibly see him struggle to get up and down the court. During warmups, all he did was stretch and stretch and stretch. He took about five or 10 shots, all of them dunks that he exhibited throughout the night.

But watching him play was incredible. He was on the court for 27 minutes, seven minutes higher than his average, and scored 12 points—all of them coming from above the basket —and grabbed 11 rebounds.

He also rejected a David Lighty shot in such impressive fashion that everyone in the arena gasped. He dunks the ball quicker than any player I've seen; it reminds me of playing Pop-a-Shot in my buddy Stu's basement, when we try to set scoring records by standing next to the rim and just throwing the ball in as fast as possible.

My roommate asked me if I thought George had any pro potential. I think he does.

Here’s where he’d fit perfectly:

A team like Golden State or Denver that plays such an up-tempo style but suffers at the defensive end would be a good match. If I were one of those teams, I’d snatch him up in a heartbeat, play him 5-10 minutes a night and tell him not even to bother crossing halfcourt and playing any offense. J

Just block shots, rebound, and keep the opposing team out of the paint. Plus, if you need a bucket late and are inbounding under your basket, just lob it into him and let him throw it down. The only person in the NBA who could stop that would be Yao Ming, and even he’s giving an inch or two to George.

If you ever get a chance to watch George or UNC-Asheville on TV or person next year, do so. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Anyway, hats off to the Bucks tonight. You always have to be concerned about teams showing up to play in tournaments like this because, honestly, it’s pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things. (Who can name the past three NIT winners?)

But Ohio State showed up and played pretty well. The 84 points was the most the Bucks scored since they beat UMBC Dec. 29. That’s frightening.

But Koufos came out and was pretty aggressive, as was Othello Hunter, who had a nice spinning layup around George. Jamar Butler led the team as he has done throughout the year, and Jon Diebler (28.8 percent from beyond the arc) hit some big 3-pointers as well.

Clearly OSU is playing pretty well right now, probably going about as good as they have all season. My bold prediction: they make it to the finals and, like every other team in the state, fall short.

The Season of Almost Dreams continues for Ohio State and Cleveland teams.