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James Farr is the best rebounder in college basketball, and it's not even close

James Farr arrived on campus as a 6'10" player who wanted nothing more than to be a shooting threat from beyond the arc. Three and a half years of hard work later, he's the most dominant rebounder we've seen in a long time.

That dude bought an earful of elbow for wandering into James's territory.
That dude bought an earful of elbow for wandering into James's territory.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Before we go into how dominant James is on the glass, let's take a moment to think about what rebounding really is. Students of the game the world around will tell you that rebounding is not one skill but two. On the defensive end, it's all about fighting your guy for that valuable real estate around the rim where the ball is likely to fall. You've gotta be committed to getting good position, strong enough to hold or expand that space, and athletic enough to be the first to the ball when it drops.

On the offensive end, it's a lot less about physical skills and a lot more about commitment. Sure it helps to be tall, strong, and athletic, but - as JP Macura's rebounding numbers attest - a lot of offensive rebounding comes down to a willingness to throw your body into the fray, first betting that the shot is one of the 55% or so that will generate a rebound and then wagering that it will fall into the portion of your opponent's real estate that you've stolen from him. Then you make that bet again and again until it pays out for you.

James Farr is one of the rare players who has both skill sets and can put them in play consistently. Just how dominant is he on the glass? Farr ranks in the top ten in the nation in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. No other player does that. No other player ranks in the top 20 in both categories. Only seven other players rank in the top 50.

I took a quick survey of the top 100 players in DReb% and then sorted them by OReb%. The result was 27 names of guys who appeared in the top 100 rebounders on both sides of the ball. The results speak for themselves:

Player Team OReb% Rank DReb% Rank Aggregate rank
James Farr Xavier 19.5% 8 31.2% 10 9
Shevon Thompson George Mason 18.0% 21 33.7% 5 13
Charles Mitchell Georgia Tech 17.1% 30 31.4% 9 19.5
Quinton Chievous Hampton 15.2% 54 36.4% 2 28
Wayne Martin Tennessee St. 15.9% 41 30.2% 16 28.5
Joseph Uchebo Charlotte 17.0% 31 28.4% 27 29
Shawn Long Louisiana Lafayette 17.4% 26 28.0% 35 30.5
Egidijus Mockevicius Evansville 14.8% 61 35.9% 3 32
Mike Thorne Illinois 15.8% 43 28.9% 25 34
Devin Williams West Virginia 16.4% 33 27.9% 37 35
Tony Parker UCLA 18.8% 16 25.2% 74 45
Geoffrey Groselle Creighton 15.0% 57 28.1% 34 45.5
Stephen Zimmerman UNLV 17.1% 28 25.8% 63 45.5
Chris Horton Austin Peay 14.1% 81 29.9% 18 49.5
Rico Gathers Baylor 15.2% 53 26.8% 48 50.5
Matt Rafferty Furman 17.7% 25 25.0% 78 51.5
Lew Evans Utah St. 18.3% 20 24.2% 100 60
Chris Cokley UAB 15.6% 46 25.1% 75 60.5
Zach Auguste Notre Dame 14.7% 62 26.1% 59 60.5
Cameron Ridley Texas 15.0% 58 25.7% 65 61.5
Horace Spencer Auburn 15.5% 47 25.0% 77 62
Grandy Glaze Grand Canyon 13.9% 86 27.2% 43 64.5
Donovan Smith Quinnipiac 15.3% 51 24.4% 94 72.5
Zena Edosomwan Harvard 13.5% 100 26.7% 49 74.5
Khaliq Spicer Kent St. 13.6% 96 26.2% 57 76.5
Jameel Warney Stony Brook 13.6% 95 25.6% 66 80.5
Nate Kratch Santa Clara 14.3% 75 24.4% 92 83.5

The aggregate rank, in case it wasn't clear, is just the average of where the player ranks in each category. This table is just another illustration of the point this whole post is driving home: nobody goes and gets it on the glass like Big Game James, and the drop off from him to the horde of guys who don't even approach his production is pretty precipitous.

The season has just begun and much is already being made of how good Kentucky is going to be next year because of their incoming freshman class. There's certainly something to be said for having half a dozen guys stop at your campus for a year before heading off to the NBA. Xavier has built a consistently competitive program in a different way, on the backs of guys who come in with fairly little fanfare and then work their tails off to become the players the team needs them to be. In his final go-'round as a Musketeer, James Farr is proving to be just that sort of guy in a way that nobody else in the nation can approach.