One would usually consider a 6’6” player to be a small forward or guard, but Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim is showing that small-ball can work in the Big 12. After a strong 2011-12 season for the Cyclones, Ejim has improved his play. He currently leads the Big 12 in rebounding by pulling down 9.6 boards per game. He’s had 10 double-digit rebounding efforts this season and is a big reason why the Cyclones have a large rebounding margin and are ranked in the top 20 in the nation in that category. Rebounding isn’t always about size and length, but sometimes leverage and hustle. Ejim certainly is an undersized power forward, but mirrors the play of Golden State’s Carl Landry.
Ejim credited a lot of his improvement for this season to playing with the Nigerian National Team this summer, which featured several current and former NBA players. That level of competition helped Ejim understand what it would take for him to become a better basketball player. It appears to have translated into this season. In addition to his conference-leading 9.6 rebounds per game, he is also scoring 11.4 points per game and staying active defensively, often having to defend players considerably bigger than himself.
In Big 12 play, he’s logged 14 points per game to go along with 11.3 rebounds through the first 3 games. He shot an impressive 7-of-14 at Kansas, to go along with 11 rebounds and a season high five assists. He pulled down 10 rebounds in a win against Texas and 13 rebounds in a win against West Virginia. As conference play continues, expect Ejim’s rebounding numbers to stay steady and close to double-digit rebounds every game. During non-conference play, he pulled down 10 rebounds in a loss to Cincinnati and 11 rebounds in a loss at UNLV, showing he is clearly capable of stepping up in big games.