Just the Beginnings for Brookline Big Man
Zeev Gray-Mandell is getting a crash course in basketball skills at Brookline High.
Just by his attributes, Zeev Gray-Mandell is the prototypical big-man that any high school coach would dream about.
The sophomore stands at 6-foot-5-inches tall. He has a near 7-foot wing span and his lengthy body allows him to run the floor with the ease of a gazelle.
The only problem is that Gray-Mandell has only put those prototypical attributes to basketball use for a little over a year. Gray-Mandell hit the hardwood for the first time his freshman year, and now he’s in an accelerated process to match the body with the basketball IQ.
Luckily he’s got a lot of help on his side.
“He really didn’t play growing up,” said Warriors’ head coach Mark Fiedor. “When we saw him as a freshman he was just a tall lanky kid who wasn’t going to play basketball or even try out for the team. We pulled him into the room and convinced him to try out. He could become a decent ball player if he worked at it since he’s never really played before.”
On a team, and in a program, that features mainly wing-players and quicker, more athletic guards, it was not surprise that Fiedor wanted Gray-Mandell to join the team. The Warriors needed a presence in the middle to help supplement their guard play, and the coaches have spend countless hours getting their big man polished to the point where he is a force in the middle.
“My coaches have basically taught me everything from dribbling to catching the ball properly,” said the 16-year-old Gray-Mandell. “They tell me to always keep my hands up. My coaches have taught me how to play the game properly. They’ve helped me so much.”
This is really only Gray-Mandell’s second season of playing basketball, and Fiedor wants him to worry about his defense before they delve into the intricacies of scoring on a consistent basis.
The shear presence of Gray-Mandell allows Fiedor to play an attacking press, because he knows that waiting as the last line of defense is an athletic big man who can alter shots and fast breaks just because of his athleticism.
“I really need to be a leader in boxing out, getting rebounds and blocking shots.,” said Gray-Mandell. “The back needs to be completely locked down, so other players on the court can do their jobs.”
There are still bumps and bruises for the inexperienced player. Gray-Mandell is a left-handed player and he hasn’t completely developed the ability to go to his off-hand or make moves with the right side of his body.
“In the modern game, if you can only dribble with your strong hand it’s a huge disadvantage,” said Fiedor. “You have to be able to turn it between both hands. To him he’s got a long way to go.”
Gray-Mandell has goals of being a scholarship athlete on the next level, and it’s his dream to play on the Div. 1 level.
“You’re not going to find many guys more athletic near our school,” said Fiedor. “He could probably go win the states if he wanted to in the 400m. The guy can really motor. He’s got some shear athletic ability that we are trying to convert into a productive basketball player.”