Skill of the Week: Rebounding with Spencer Johnson

Elijah Ringler

Spencer Johnson
Spencer Johnson

Men’s basketball captain Spencer Johnson has made a name for himself as an exceptional rebounder in his four years at UMKC. The senior from Champaign, Ill. has led the team in rebounds the past two seasons and is currently second in the Summit League with 9.4 rebounds per game and third on the UMKC all-time career list with 578.

He set his career high in rebounds three times this season and pulled down a staggering 21 against North Dakota State on Dec. 28, the second-highest total in school history. Johnson took some time after practice to discuss what makes a great rebounder.

Want the ball

“You have to want the ball,” Johnson said. “Especially on offensive rebounds. A lot of times, the player that wants it more gets it.”

This desire for the ball is often times what separates good rebounders from great ones. It can mean the difference between a player who will fight to get a rebound and one who will not.

“It starts with the mentality,” Johnson said.

Know the shot

“If the shot is from the corner, it will usually go to the other side,” Johnson said.

Knowing the angles of how the shot will come off the rim is key in getting a rebound. It often means the difference between being in the right place and being in the wrong place.

Learning the other players, opponents and teammates, shooting style helps as well.

“I know my teammates,” Johnson said. “So if they shoot I usually know where it’s going to go if it misses.”

Get low

Johnson explains how it’s not just about getting up in the air to snatch the ball but how it starts with getting lower than your opponent.

“You need to get lower. Get under [the opponent],” Johnson said.

He explains how getting lower gives a player more leverage and therefore more strength, which is key in rebounding. A player who attempts to box-out an opponent without getting lower can be pushed around more easily.

Get them out

The next step is to clear out the opponent as far away from the basket as possible.

“You want to take away that area near the basket,” Johnson said.

Johnson talked about how to box-out. He said getting the opponent away from the scoring area greatly improves chances of securing the rebound.

“They can’t rebound if they’re not near the ball,” Johnson said.

Go get it

When going up for a rebound in heavy traffic, going up with both hands is important.

Getting up and getting it at the top of the jump is important, and being aggressive will secure more rebounds.

“You have to go up strong,” Johnson said. “Or you’re not going to get it.”

Keep it and go

To protect the ball from being stolen after it is rebounded, the player needs to immediately get the ball directly under the chin and get their elbows out. This will ensure no players try to come up from underneath to take it.

“You protect the ball and then look for a guard on the outlet,” Johnson said. “Then I’m just trying to get in a lane and get down the court.”

This demonstrates how thankless rebounding can be. Rarely are there cheers for just a rebound, yet without a player that will fight for the ball, a team would garner no cheers in the end.

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