BERKELEY, Calif. — Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland)
junior center Ivan Rabb
heard some of the boos, which he says he's used to. But he really enjoyed the chants.
"Over-rated," a few from
student body half-heartedly belted out before Friday's Tri-County Athletic League home game. "Over-rated."
Depending on who you talk to, the long-and-skilled 6-foot-10 Rabb may be just the top-rated junior basketball player in the country. ESPN has him No. 3, Scout No. 4 and 247Sports No. 6.
"If there are any players, let alone five, better than Ivan I'd like to see him or them," Bishop O'Dowd coach Lou Richie said. "He's pretty special."
Even if selected No. 1, he couldn't have been considered over-rated Friday as he recorded a triple double with 27 points, 11 blocks, 10 rebounds, seven dunks and five assists in an 80-74 win. He made 10 of 11 shots.
It was an impressive display just a quarter-mile from where Rabb and the Dragons will play Northern California's top-ranked team Capital Christian (Sacramento)
Monday in the premier game of the 17th annual MaxPreps Martin Luther King Jr. Classic at Haas Pavilion on the campus of Cal.
Four of his assists were of the no-look variety — "I think I like assisting on baskets more than scoring," he said — and on one sequence he went around his back and threw his legs on an end-to-end dribble drive that ended with an assist.
At the end of a flawless first half he took an inbound pass, dribbled up the court poised and under control, pulled up just above the top of the key and drilled a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
Rabb didn't put a finger up to his lips to shush the hecklers or point at the scoreboard or even flail his fist. He jogged briskly off the court expressionless as if he'd done it all before.
Later, he admitted, he was quite pleased. He had scored 17 points on a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor, added five rebounds, five blocks and four assists. O'Dowd had played its "A" game with a 47-27 lead over a Berkeley team that entered 12-0.
"I appreciated (the hecklers Friday)," he said. "It helped motivate me a little."
The Dragons (8-4) needed all the motivation it could get the second half as Berkeley made a spirited rally, only to fall short. Rabb finished things off with a follow dunk while being fouled and a two handed dunk against Berkeley's tallest player, 6-4 junior Asa Allen who led the second half superb with 10 of his 19 points in the third quarter.
Berkeley's 5-8 junior guard Adrian Rico also had a big game with 26 points, including four 3-pointers.
"Berkeley was tough, but we need to finish games better," Rabb said. "A lot better." Fly swat distractions
Richie, a Bishop O'Dowd standout in the late 80s and All-ACC point guard, has coached many big Bay Area standouts for both the Dragons and with the AAU Oakland Soldiers.
His most recent blue chip O'Dowd recruit was current Arizona junior starting forward Brandon Ashley. He also coached other front-liners Drew and Aaron Gordon, the latter a three-time San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro Player of the Year and McDonald's All-American MVP game winner.
"By the time he's done, yes, I think he'll be mentioned with Aaron Gordon and Drew Gooden and all the area greats," Richie said. "He could be even better. He's just so coach-able and such a great kid. He's got no ego. He's humble. He wants to be better and learn."
It's one thing to fly swat shots against shorter players like Rabb did Friday, but it's tougher to block out the distractions of being an elite basketball players these days.
Besides ignoring hecklers and aggressive defensive schemes by shorter less-talented players, Rabb must deal with constant media requests, autograph seekers, future agent sorts, not to mention social media posts and undercuts.
"He can handle it all," said junior point guard Paris Austin
. "He's got everything physically and mentally to make it big."
"NBA lottery big," Austin said.
But there are so many landmines, double- and triple teams. On Friday, on and off the court, he handled it all beautifully. Rabb either back downed, powered through or dribbled past defenders for dunks. Once while being undercut on a lob, he flushed it down with his left hand.
Berkeley was left largely defenseless
"Ivan is doing a great job of becoming a leader," Richie said. "Every game he's double- and triple-teamed. But he's got such a great demeanor. He doesn't get nasty or throw cheap shots. At the same time, he plays tough. He doesn't back down."
It helped that he played on the USA U16 team in Uruguay last summer and led the Americans to a FIBA Americas championship. In a 93-64 semifinal win over Puerto Rico, Rabb had 19 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. In the title win, a 94-48 win over Argentina, Rabb contribured 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"I was so proud of Ivan and all he accomplished with team USA," Austin said. "It really helped him get even better."
It showed at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas last month. Sky is the limit
Against a pair of blue chip junior big men, 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman and 6-10 Chase Jeter, Rabb dominated with 24 points in a 68-54 win over host Bishop Gorman in the semifinals.
Then in the finals, against three-time defending state champion Mater Dei, Rabb had 24 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks in a 63-59 overtime defeat.
"He looked like one of the best players and prospects in America," MaxPreps senior writer and basketball editor Jason Hickman said earlier this week. "Sounds like he has come back to earth a bit since then but if that showing in Las Vegas is at all indicative of what's ahead for him, sky is the limit. He's a prototype power forward in every way."
It's important to note, other than Rabb, the Dragons have no strong inside presence. Shane Farley
, who made 9 of 10 shots and scored 19 points against Berkeley, is the only O'Dowd player other than Rabb over 6-4. Farley is 6-5.
Despite that, Rabb doesn't demand the ball or pout when he doesn't get it. Austin, his best friend since the fifth grade, is a vastly improved 5-10 junior and 6-1 senior Juwan Anderson
is also explosive. Both play the point.
Asked what Rabb needs to work on, Richie said: "Probably react better out of double teams and really pursuing the ball. He needs to demand the ball at time. His nature is to be very unselfish."
On Friday, he was exceptional dealing with the double team. So much so, the Yellowjackets were forced to cover him one-on-one at times. That just wasn't fair.
"He shoot with either hand, is effective with a fade-away, from 15 feet out and now he's 3-for-3 on 3-pointers," Richie said. "He's the complete package." Shooting from the hip
Though a natural left-hander – he eats and writes with his left-hand – Rabb shoots free throws right-handed. He started doing so as a player in elementary school.
"All the other kids shot right-handed so I just copied them," he said. "I could shoot (free throws) left-handed and do OK. I just prefer it with my right."
Remarkably, Rabb said, Austin is exactly the same, a natural left-hander who shoots with his right.
Both shot directly from the hip when asked about playing Capital Christian. Evidently the two teams mixed it up hard on more than one occasion during summer league play. It created some bad blood.
With 6-8 D.J. Wilson
, a Michigan signee, and 6-6, 270-pound Nifae Lealao
, a Stanford football commit, Capital Christian will present taller and beefier challenges for Rabb than Berkeley.
Capital Christian won the always tough and competitive Gridley Tournament last month and finished second in the rigorous 24-team Invitational Division of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic.
"I'm definitely looking forward to that game," Rabb said. "They got real physical on us during the summer so we'll have to step up. Unlike those games, this one counts."
17th Annual MaxPreps Martin Luther King Jr. Classic hosted by De La Salle High SchoolWHERE:
University of California's Haas PavilionWHEN:
Monday, Jan. 20GAMES Castro Valley
vs. Saint Mary's (Albany)
, 10:30 a.m.Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco)
vs. El Cerrito
, 12:15 p.m.Newark Memorial (Newark)
vs. Jesuit (Carmichael)
, 2 p.m.Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland)
vs. Capital Christian (Sacramento)
, 3:45 p.m.De La Salle (Concord)
vs. Long Beach Poly
, 5:30 p.m.Salesian (Richmond)
, 7:15 p.m.TICKETS
* Pre-sale at De La Salle bookstore until Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
* General admission tickets available online CLICK HERE
Pre-sale ticket prices: General admission bleacher seating - $7 per
adult; $5 for students, seniors, children; Reserved chair back seating,
$15 includes all day in/out access.
* Game-day ticket prices:
General, $10 adults, $5 students, seniors, and children. Reserved chair
back, $20; Courtside, $30 each game. BROADCAST
Streamed live HERE
($9.95 fee for all six games)QWIXCORE
Follow all six games by clicking on live scores from maxpreps.com on your mobile phone
individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow
confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all
humanity." — Martin Luther King Jr.