By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Garret Kerr burst on the scene during the 2011-12 season for the University of the Sciences men’s basketball team as a freshman, averaging a double-double, leading the nation in rebounding and capturing Rookie of the Year honors in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.
So, of course, after a phenomenal season like that the only direction to go was . . . up.
This season Kerr, the son of former Flyers’ star Tim Kerr, once again leads all of Division II in rebounding (12.6 a game) and he has upped his scoring average nearly six points a game from his freshman season, pouring in 21.5 points a game. That’s good for 14th in the nation.
“I try not to look at the stats too much,” Kerr tells KYW Newsradio. “I try and just go out there and do what my team needs me to do to give us a better chance to win. A lot of my teammates box their men out, kind of help us out, we do a lot of that in practice. They do a good job checking their men out and a lot of times the ball just happens to fall in my hands. I’m pretty fortunate.”
Making this season even sweeter for Kerr, who on Thursday was named the CACC Player of the Year, is the fact that the team has had more success. The Devils won just six games his freshman year, but this season they have improved to 13-12 and qualified for the conference’s postseason tournament.
A South Jersey native who graduated from Middle Township High School, Kerr has been at his best here down the stretch. In his last five games – all wins – Kerr is dominating at the rate of 28.6 points and 18.2 rebounds a contest. All these numbers on the glass are made even more impressive when you consider that Kerr is listed at 6’4″, and most nights he is matching up with players at least three or four inches taller than he is.
“I think the key, being undersized a little bit, is more about being in the right position and kind of anticipating where the ball is going,” Kerr says. “A lot of guys that we play are maybe a little bit more athletic or obviously a little taller, maybe a little stronger. So kind of the key is maybe outworking them and just being in the right position and anticipating when the ball is coming. If you’re in a better position, it gives you a better shot to get the ball.”
Kerr says another key to his success on the glass – wanting it more than the other guy.
“I think that’s actually a pretty big portion of it as well,” Kerr adds. “I talk to my dad, the tips that he gives me, he kind of played the same game as me on the ice. Teams will put a lot of guys on you sometimes, try and check you out or whatever. As long as you are working harder than the other player and you’re in better position, if you want the ball, than a lot of times, you’ll get it.”
Adding to the nightmare for opposing teams is the fact that Kerr also has become a tough guard on the perimeter. He has hit 50% of his three-point shots, draining 24 of 48 from behind the arc this season.
“One of the main focuses for me last off-season was to extend my range out a little more,” Kerr says. “Last year I was more of an inside-only (player), may step out sometimes, so teams are definitely going pack it in on me a little bit. So I knew in order for me to change my game, become more versatile, one of the main things I needed to do was increase my range and step it out. This year, I’ve actually been very fortunate, getting in some good spots, Coach (Dave Pauley) has put in some good plays, I’ve been pretty open, teammates have found me and I’ve shot it a little better this year.”
So the resume is already incredibly impressive for Kerr, and the scary part is that he still has a ton of college basketball left to play to add to it.
“Actually is kind of crazy, just sitting down and saying I do have two more years left,” Kerr says. “I’m very fortunate. These two years I can only hope are half as good as how it was these (past) two years.”
Kerr and the Devils open play in the CACC Tournament on Saturday afternoon with a quarterfinal match-up on the road against Bloomfield.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.