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Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Biancardi's Breakdown: Ivan Rabb

By Paul Biancardi

After a long and detailed conversation about the nation’s best prospects, Ivan Rabb holds on to his No. 1 spot as we launch the new ESPN 100 for the Class of 2015.

Why he is No. 1: Many factors go into being tabbed the nation’s top prospect such as strong performance, consistent production and potential. At 6-foot-11 and 210 pounds, Rabb has all the physical markers to impact a game. Rabb has mobility and an enormous wing span (7-4). He utilizes those features along with speed and lateral quickness to protect the basket, outrun opponents and score the ball. It’s his efficiency that is impressive, as the majority of shots come inside the paint. After 16 games in the Elite Youth Basketball League, he had made more than 60 percent of his field-goal attempts, per GameChanger stats service.

Ivan Rabb
Ivan Rabb has impressed with his efficiency.
For a No. 1 player, he is easy to play with. When he catches the ball in the post he surveys the defender and the defense and will attempt to score or throw it back out if he is not at an advantage. He knows when his team needs a basket and will be aggressive attacking the basket when necessary. Because he doesn’t have to shoot it every time he touches it, it speaks to his selflessness, commitment to winning and being a good teammate. Beyond scoring, he influences the game with his excellent shot blocking and contesting of shots and his active rebounding. Rabb still needs to be consistently more aggressive and not play in spurts, but he has already made a big improvement in that area. With all the tools and a focusing on improving rather than proving himself Rabb stays at No. 1 … for now.

Offensive game: With improved strength he now can fight and hold his position on the blocks and in the paint a little longer, which allows for more scoring opportunities. Prior to this season he would score inside with his length rather than his instincts on where the defensive was located. Now he can effectively score with both hands and will also use a shot fake in traffic which give him the balance and space he needs to finish. He has put time into a developing an elbow jumper and he also is working on a 3-point shot, but for now Rabb knows if his team needs a basket or a big play on defense it will be in the lane. He has taken his work ethic to another level and it is starting to show, according to his high school coach, Lou Richie.

Defensive game: Rabb has always been committed to blocking shots, contesting shots and rebounding -- now he has a more aggressive approach. In the Nike EYBL he is one of the better rebounders, both in his area and out of his space, and has had many games with more than 10 boards. Speaking of rebounding, Rabb gets to the defensive boards. His activity on the offensive glass is evident as he works to get opposite from where the ball was shot to gain extra possessions. Rabb’s shot-blocking ability changes how offensive players will attack the rim as he will come from the weak side to challenge, change and swat a shot with timing and length. These two areas have been a constant part of his game.

Area of growth: Strength is an obvious category as he now stands at 210 pounds and has the time and the frame to add a significant amount of muscle and as he has already made strides in the area. When Rabb plays in the post and has the advantage of good position, he must be more vocal and demand the basketball, because he is quiet by nature and needs to communicate with his teammates more. The next step for him with his teammates will be in the role of a leader. As a rising senior he must lead by words and actions and try and provide leadership. “As a senior I feel responsible to make a play on offense or defense to make my team win. If we lose a game it should be on my shoulders to play better next time.” Rabb said.

Hotly pursued: California, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas, UNC, Duke, Georgetown and Louisville are on Rabb’s list of schools. “The Cardinals are definitely in the picture and I hope to cut my list down be the Nike Peach Jam in July,” Rabb said. After the Boo Williams tournament in May, Rabb and Richie went to Duke, UNC and Georgetown for unofficial visits. “I enjoyed my visits to all three schools as Duke and UNC were more basketball towns and Georgetown was in a big city. Each school made me feel very welcomed and I met the strength and conditioning coach of every program and each had a plan for me which I thought was great,” Rabb said. Expect the recruiting pursuit to be extremely competitive as we will see head coaches from his list at his games this summer.