CHICAGO — Morehead State forward Kenneth Faried, college basketball's career leader in rebounding, was measured at 6-foot-6 without shoes at the NBA Combine. That made him a smaller-than-life figure literally as well as figuratively.
Even before the NBA recorded his height, Faried figured he might come up short in the estimation of the pros because he played in a mid-major league.
"Not many people believe I can compete with bigger players," Faried said. "People don't believe I can continue that at the next level."
Faried was big enough to grab 1,673 rebounds for Morehead State. That broke Tim Duncan's NCAA Division I record of 1,570. But the fact he did it mainly against Ohio Valley Conference competition gave pause.
When asked how he could prove he can rebound at the NBA level, Faried cited his ability to jump.
"I have a quick first jump," he said. "My second jump is amazing and quicker than the first jump."
Not that Faried can't be impressed by who's in the big town. When he entered the room to be interviewed by the Indiana Pacers, he was startled to see Larry Bird, the Hall of Fame player who now is the Pacers' president of basketball operations.
"I was star-struck," Faried said. "I had to turn around and look at him to make sure it was him."
Paradoxically, the doubts about Faried do not dampen the comparisons to Dennis Rodman, an elite NBA rebounder despite being only 6-7. By the way, Rodman played college basketball for a nondescript school, Southeastern Oklahoma State.
"I have a great belief I can be that type of player," said Faried, who nonetheless recoiled from being compared to such an accomplished player.
When a reporter jokingly asked about Faried dyeing his hair like Rodman, the former Morehead State star said he would not color his signature dreadlocks.
"I'm the 'reverse Rodman,'" he said, "because I'm a clean guy."
'Trainer to the pros'
Would-be University of Kentucky player Enes Kanter went top shelf in preparing himself for the NBA. He said he had been in Chicago for about six weeks working with Tim Grover, a man known as the "trainer to the pros."
Among Grover's clients are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
So when asked if he was rusty after having not played in more than a year, Kanter said, "I don't think so. I feel I'm in great shape."
Kanter met Grover when the latter went to Greece four years ago to attend a Jordan Brand Classic game.
Kanter said he had been working out with Grover twice a day.
Although in Chicago for six weeks, Kanter said he was able to do class work.
"I took my classes online," he said. "I have one more final. After that, I will be done."
Kanter spent his 19th birthday working out and interviewing for NBA teams.
"I'm here and this is the best place you can be," he said when a reporter noted his birthday.
Of his birthday plans, Kanter said, "Maybe just go out and eat something with my friends."
Former Tennessee forward Tobias Harris said he reduced his percentage of body fat from 13 to 8. His weight dropped from 238 pounds playing for Tennessee this past season to 223.
No bread, sweets and candy. He ate protein and veggies.
"I wanted to be in the best of shape and feel great out there playing the three-spot," said Harris, a power forward at Tennessee. "I feel more explosive, faster and able to go by anybody on the floor."
Harris said he was projected to be drafted anywhere from No. 8 to No. 22 in the first round.
Former Georgia player Trey Thompkins registered the highest percentage of body fat at 15.5.
"Oh man, I was a chubby kid growing up," Thompkins said in an agreeable tone when asked about his body fat. "I've been working to get it down. I'm in the best shape I've ever been in and I want to get in even better shape."
Former Duke guard Kyrie Irving's 10.2 percent body fat raised eyebrows.
"I'm aware of the percentage," said Irving, the expected No. 1 pick in the draft. "I don't want it to be that. ... It's kind of embarrassing."
When a reporter noted that Irving did not look fat, he said, "You can't see it, but it's there."
Former UK player Brandon Knight cited Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade as point guard role models.
"I try to take things they do well," he said.
Former UK teammate DeAndre Liggins cited Tony Allen and Ron Artest as role models.