When Ben Witherspoon first arrived at Dr. Phillips High School as the school’s freshly-minted basketball coach, he noticed something unusual about his team.
Of the 13 players on varsity, 12 were guards. The team had just one traditional big man —Ernest Udeh, who stood a towering 6-foot-8 at 15-years-old.
By nature of the team’s composition, Udeh was at an inherent disadvantage. Witherspoon geared practices towards the guards, putting his players through an array of ball-handling exercises and shooting drills.
“When is he going to get the things that he needs in order to get himself better, playing the center position?” Witherspoon, recalling his thought process at the time, told UM Hoops on Thursday. “So it was, alright, Ernest, you’re coming an hour earlier, me and you will do the stuff that you need and then when everyone else gets here, we’ll do stuff with the guards as well. So he gets double duty there.”