View Count: 154 |  Publish Date: April 06, 2014
S.F. Chronicle's Boys Player of the Year: Bishop O'Dowd's Ivan Rabb

When Ivan Rabb was in the fifth grade playing on a youth basketball team in Oakland, he noticed that the other boys were shooting with their right hand.
Rabb is a born southpaw. He eats, writes and throws with his left hand.
It just seemed the thing to do, so I started shooting right-handed, he said.
Every step Rabb has made, it appears, has been right, and many believe the 6-foot-10, 210-pound post player from Bishop ODowd-Oakland - The Chronicles All-Metro Player of the Year - is the best junior in the country. ranks him No. 1 in the Class of 2015, and almost every recruiting service has him in its top five.
And, yes, some of that has to do with his being ambidextrous. He shoots free throws right-handed (74 percent), and he makes 30 percent of his left-handed shots.
Overall, he shot 65 percent from the field for the 28-5 Dragons while averaging more than 25 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks and leading his team to a CIF Northern California Open Division title.
They won 23 straight, by an average margin of 28.5 points, before being defeated in the state final last week by national No. 1 Mater Dei-Santa Ana (35-0).
Rabb is an obvious choice as Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of Mittys Aaron Gordon, the only three-time winner and this years Pac-12 Freshman of the Year at Arizona.
By the time hes done, yes, I think hell be mentioned with Aaron Gordon and Drew Gooden (El Cerrito) and all the area greats, ODowd coach Lou Richie said. He could be even better. Hes just so coachable and such a great kid. Hes got no ego. Hes humble. He wants to be better and learn.
Whatever Ivan applies himself to, hes very, very successful.
Like switching hands, for instance. No easy feat. But Rabb - whose parents were both high school athletes and whose dad played college football - is able to adjust. And then work. And work some more.
Hes a perfectionist, Richie said. He likes to do well in all things. He likes the details of things. He watches and is very, very perceptive. He doesnt miss anything. ... Hes a practical joker, witty and very sharp.
After transferring from a public school in East Oakland to ODowd, Richie said Rabb struggled academically - at first. A 1.8 GPA his first semester improved to 2.8 his second. Now hes above 3.0.
Many of the top schools in the country are recruiting Rabb. North Carolina coach Roy Williams was at ODowd two days before the Mater Dei game.
Im going to take my time and make the right choice, said Rabb, who has received offers from Arizona, Cal, UCLA, Connecticut, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky. Ill look more closely now that the season is over.
With Richie as a mentor, and close teammates like childhood friend Paris Austin to keep him humble, Rabb seems well equipped to avoid the pitfalls that come with being a top recruit. He keeps his cool whether hes being undercut by smaller players or heckled by opposing student bodies.
Before a January game, Berkeley students chanted overrated at Rabb. He never acknowledged the chorus and then scored 27 points, had 11 blocks, 10 rebounds, seven dunks and five assists in an 80-74 win. Rabb was 10-of-11 from the floor.
I appreciated the hecklers, Rabb said afterward. It helped motivate me a little.
Austin, a Division I college prospect in his own right, was asked if Rabb can handle the attention thats bound to come his way. He can handle it all, Austin said. Hes got everything physically and mentally to make it big.
How big?
NBA lottery big, Austin said.
Ivan Rabb
School: Bishop ODowd-Oakland
Year: Junior
Position: Power forward/center
Ht., Wt.: 6-10, 210 pounds
Stats: More than 25 points, 16 rebounds, 5 blocks per game
College offers: Arizona, Cal, UCLA, Connecticut, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky, among others
Mitch Stephens is a national columnist for E-mail: Twitter: @MitchMashMax

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Time: 0:49  |  News Code: 395612  |  Site: San Francisco Chronicle
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