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 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 starstruck," 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."