COURTSIDE WITH COACH EDMONDS: Where have all the big men gone?

Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003.

Post play and the way that it “used to be played” was relatively simple. You had guards that controlled the ball and whose primary responsibility was to control the flow of the game and get everyone involved. You had forwards, that primarily controlled the baseline of the floor and mastered the 12-15 foot jump shot and assisted with defending those players who were similar to them in height and more often than not ability. Then you had the CENTER (or post player) that controlled everything close to the basket from 10 feet on in and guarded the opposing teams’ tallest or most physical player.

For the purposes of today’s Courtside article I wanted to take a look at the center position simply because the true center – the big man who never strayed far from the basket – is a thing of the past.

Today’s centers are either yesterday’s forwards or seven-footers that can shoot and run the floor. They are asked to handle the ball, pass effectively and even occasionally shoot from distances previously not approached by big men: 18-22 feet. According to, this season in the NBA, 15 seven-footers attempted over 100 three-pointers with Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls tossing up over 400 threes (making 145); perhaps perfectly illustrating today’s new age ‘center.’

But the question I want to pose to you is “how did this trend start to trickle down to the HIGH SCHOOL level?”

When did things change? Why? How? I’ll tell you what changed things for our big guys” THE 3 POINT LINE. That little arch which goes from one corner around the top of the key and settles in the opposite corner has dramatically changed how the game is played and has taken post play – which was a “privilege” spot to be designated for on a team – and made them almost as extinct as dinosaurs. Okay that’s a reach, but you get what I’m saying.

Just as the guard position has changed from 5-foot-8 to 5-10 players, to now guards being 6-5 to 6-9, so has the center/post position changed. Players are bigger, stronger and faster than yesterday’s players and are able to do much more than sit inside and wait for the ball to occasionally be passed to them. Now, THEY are the ones passing the ball inside, outside and everywhere else. Now before I give the impression that I’m not a progressive thinker and can’t adjust to the changing game or changing times, I enjoy seeing big guys that can play multiple positions on the floor.

When I see players like Dirk Nowinski (7-0) Kevin Durant (6-11) bring the ball down the floor like a guard and stop at the three point line and make shots. It just shows me how much the game has opened up and allowed players that are highly skilled the opportunity to show their game at another level. The new term “positionless basketball” has really taken over the rosters of not only the NBA or collegiate programs but has migrated down to the high school levels as well. It’s made the game more exciting and allowed athletes to market themselves as players who can’t be penciled into a particular position or area on the floor to show their worth.

Fans enjoy the game and the new way that the big men are showing their skills; it’s exciting to see!

Courtside with Coach Edmonds has appeared all 2019-2020 basketball season and beyond at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Courtside with Coach Edmonds will resume during the 2020-2021 season.

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