If you somehow haven’t heard of Kenny George, well, it’s about time you did. No, he’s not special because he has two first names. He stands out because the UNC-Asheville center measures 7 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 365 pounds. He has a 93 inch wingspan and wears a size 28 shoe (26 according to some). For reference, Shaq only wears a size 22 or 23, is 7’1 and tips the scales at 325. Yao Ming, standing at 7’6, is only 310. So you get the idea. Kenny George is a large man. In fact, he’s the biggest player in college basketball.
Watching him play is unbelievable. He averages a solid 13 points, eight rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. But it’s more the way he plays. George doesn’t need to leave his feet to dunk. The Bulldog’s most effective play is an inbounds pass where they simply lob it to George standing with his hands above his head and let him lay it in the hoop. George is also solid on defense, as he averages five blocks per game. It’s really unfair for most of Asheville’s opponents, who are mostly lower tier collegiate programs with undersized centers matching up against him. He did square off against Tyler Hansbrough and played well, with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks. But Hansbrough dunked on George, one of the rare times that’s ever happened.
But it’s not all easy for George. According to NBA Draft net, “It appears likely that George has giantism (whether he has had or can have the surgery to remove the abnormality in his pituitary gland is unknown - a procedure that can have negative effects on a player's abilities).” George has had several knee surgeries and doesn’t even start at UNC-Asheville because of conditioning problems. In a well written story on George featured in the NY Times, it’s revealed that he doesn’t have a driver’s license because he’s too big to fit into the drivers seat. Life’s not very convenient for the big guy.
“When the semester ends, his father drives 650 miles from Chicago, his hometown, to Asheville so George does not have to squeeze into an airplane seat.
By his senior year, his feet had grown beyond size 23, the largest athletic shoe made. In search of a size 25, VanderMeulen appealed to college and N.B.A. teams. Weeks later, Shaquille O’Neal sent several pairs of his size 22’s to Chicago. VanderMeulen shipped them to a New York City shoemaker who cut off the soles and toes and reshaped them into 25’s.
Asheville has a contract with Nike, which makes 12 pairs of size-26 shoes for George. They are the only shoes he wears.”
While George does face some problems because of his stature, it’s that same size that causes the opposition to fret. He’s nearly impossible to guard and his presence in the lane is, well, gigantic. Last season he shot 77 percent from the field. And apparently he’s into creative writing and production, a route which he may follow because of uncertain NBA prospects. So this Bud Light goes to you Big Fella.
Here are some great clips of Kenny George, including a piece done by ESPN’s college gameday. Set aside a few minutes and watch these:
Photo credit: scout.com