March’s newest star may be Morehead State’s rebounding machine

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Kenneth Faried’s ready for the NCAA tournament. But is the NCAA tournament ready for him?

Morehead State’s rebounding fiend logged his 27th double-double of the season (24 and 15) and helped the Eagles down Tennessee Tech for the Ohio Valley tournament title and their second trip to the Big Dance in the last three years.

I’m so ecstatic, I can’t even talk,” Faried said afterward. “This is the feeling I wanted back.”

The last time he had it, Morehead State won the play-in game vs. Alabama State (Faried scored 14 and grabbed 21 boards), then  lost to Louisville in a 16-1 game. He had 11 rebounds and 14 points in that one.

This time around, Morehead State (24-9) could very well be a 16 seed again. But Faried, a 6-8, 245-pound power forward who’s bound for the NBA, is the kind of player who could make the difference in an historic win. The senior is the nation’s best rebounder on offense and defense, and has been doing it at such a high level for so long, he supplanted none other than Tim Duncan as the modern’s era record holder.

And oh yeah, he’s also a damn shot blocker, efficient scorer and basically makes his teammates better. He wowed Florida coach Billy Donovan earlier this year and excels at intimating foes. Why wouldn’t he do it in the tourney?

He doesn’t even have to do it alone.

Teammate Demonte Harper, a 6-4 guard, turned in a 27-point, 11-rebound, eight-assist night, taking some of the pressure off Faried and giving the Eagles another potent weapon.

“Kenneth gets all the attention and rightfully so. He’s a guy I think will be a first-round pick and play a lot of years in the NBA. That kid right there to his right, whew. Stud. Stud,” coach Donnie Tyndall said of Harper.

Still, Faried’s the showstopper.

He’s a well-known talent in the college hoops world, but his talent, charm and TV-friendly story – the Jersey native attends school in Kentucky, while his mom, Waudda, is back home, afflicted with lupus, which has only strengthened the bond between mother and son – will make him an incredible story to fans who don’t know him yet.

And he might just be good enough to stick around so they can learn.

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