If they've said it once, coaches have said it 15 kajillion times: Rebounding is simply a question of positioning.
Take Gilman's Jimmy Fields. He had 18 rebounds in a game last week, a terrific performance for a 15-year-old high school sophomore. Any frontcourt player would be proud.
So, what's Fields' position? Very close to the floor. He's a 5-foot-6, 115-pound point guard. The rest of that triple double he had against Patterson, the 14 points and 11 assists, are understandable coming from an under-13 AAU All-American. But 18 rebounds?
"Our team boxed out well and I was able to box my man out," said Fields by way of explanation. "A lot hit the ground and I scrambled for them."
In that 75-72 Gilman win, Patterson hit only 12 of 35 foul shots. "About 10," of his rebounds came off those Clipper misses, Fields said. Still, that would mean some fortuitous bounces for Fields, who was lined up at the end of the lane to block out the foul shooter.
"They were shooting some bricks," he finally admitted.
He may never get 18 rebounds in an organized game again, though he's still growing and doctors expect him to reach 5-10 or 6 feet. But Jimmy Fields has shown he's capable of the unexpected.
Certainly, a lot of local basketball people didn't expect to see him enroll at Gilman, an MSA B Conference school in basketball. After all, he had a Baltimore basketball pedigree. At Madison Square in East Baltimore he played on BNBL champions, AAU state age group champions, and under-13 AAU national runners-up. Those teams were coached by his father, Jimmy Fields Sr., and the younger Jimmy was used to winning.
At the street level, basketball junkies have a way of knowing what is best for the young players they watch. Jimmy was expected to attend one of the local powerhouses or, at the least, an MSA A Conference school.
"I got a lot of flak for sending him here," said Jimmy Sr., an expediter for a pharmaceuticals company. "The guys -- they rode his back and they rode my back. I told them it's not about basketball, it's about the books."
And Jimmy knows it. "The way he raised me, it's books first, then basketball," he said. He's lived with his father since he was 8, but talks to his mother daily and sees her often. He attended city schools through eighth grade and has had to make adjustments.
"The books are tough," Fields said. "You just have to put in the hours." He's plenty bright and personable, but study skills are hard to develop.
There have been adjustments on the court, too. Last year he was a freshman hotshot on a team with 11 seniors. "I think it was a tough adjustment emotionally as a 14-year-old kid playing with 17- and 18-year-olds," said Greyhounds coach Tim Holley. "He had some great games last year and some slumps, but he continued to grow. He's matured a lot. The difference is he's on a team now where he's the floor leader. There are only three seniors on the team this year. He has the respect of the team."
This season he's averaging 12.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists for the young Greyhounds (2-6, 6-12). He has great court vision and savvy. Occasionally he'll throw a pass for a turnover that a more experienced or athletic teammate could turn into a basket.
But what others expect of Jimmy on the basketball court isn't relevant anymore. He has plenty of time to develop. His father said, "A lot of people don't understand, he's only 15."