Seton Hall center Romaro Gill, a 7-2, 255-pound senior, ranks eighth nationally in block percentage, swatting roughly one out of every 6.5 two-point shots the Pirates’ opponents attempt, on average, while he’s on the floor.
Purdue’s Matt Haarms, who’s listed at 7-3 and 250 pounds, is ranked 11th.
They’re the kind of players that you would expect to be ranked among the national leaders in blocks — 7-footers who patrol the paint and bat away shots that are within an arm’s length of the rim.
Fourteen of the nation’s top 100 shot-blockers stand at least seven feet tall, including the best shot-blocker in the country, Oregon State’s Kylor Kelley, who has posted a ridiculous 18.7 percent block rate this season.
That means almost one out of every five two-point attempts that is sent towards the rim against Oregon State when Kelley is on the floor ends up being sent back down by Kelley.
That got us wondering: Who is the country’s best, shortest shot-blocker?
Well, it all depends on how you define “shortest” and potentially how you define “best.”
Bryant’s Hall Elisias, 6-7, could have a case with a 17.7 percent block rate that ranks third in the country.
At 6-7, he’s certainly not short, but he’s eight inches shorter than Purdue’s Haarms and his block percentage is roughly four percentage points higher than the Boilermakers’ big.
In the modern era of basketball of small-ball “fours,” centers who shoot threes and position-less basketball, the idea that a 6-7 player is a really good shot-blocker isn’t surprising or anything we haven’t seen.
So 6-7 isn’t short enough, we’re looking for players even shorter than Elisias — players who might blend in with a crowd.
Among the top 100 players nationally in block percentage, according to kenpom.com, Duquesne’s Marcus Weathers, 6-5, is tied for the shortest player and his 7.6 percent block rate ranks 62nd nationally — one spot behind Coppin State’s 7-1 center Brendan Medley-Bacon.
Weathers represents a player archetype that feels very much at home in college basketball — players who are potentially undersized for their position, at least compared to historical standards, but who put up stats that are arguably bigger than their physical stature.
Two of Weathers’ top four statistical player comparisons this season on kenpom.com are Ed Polite, the 6-5, former Radford power forward who was a shot-blocker and the No. 1 defensive rebounder in the Big South last season, and Jemerrio Jones, the 6-5, former New Mexico State power forward who was less of a shot-blocker but led the country with an absurd 37.3 defensive rebounding percentage in 2018.
Maybe Bryant’s Elisias is the best, shortest shot-blocker if you put more emphasis on “best” than “shortest.”
Duquesne’s Weathers splits the difference between “best” and “shortest.”
But what if we go even shorter?
The average height for an American male is roughly 5-9, so, who are the players who are just taller than the national average that also have impressive block rates, inch-for-inch and pound-for-pound, even though they’re not 7-feet tall?
We went through every Division I roster to find out who are the best, shortest shot-blockers who are listed at 6-2 or shorter, and to see if there’s one player in particular who you can make a clear case for as the very best.
There’s also an element of minutes played that should be taken into account.
For example, Iona’s AJ McNeil, 6-2, has a 26.2 percent block rate as of Friday morning. Remember, the national leader among players who have played at least 40 percent of their team’s minutes this season is Oregon State’s Kylor Kelley at 18.7 percent, so on the surface, a 26.2 percent block rate is really impressive.
But McNeil has just two blocks in nine minutes this season, which is impressive on a per-minute basis, but two blocks in two months doesn’t make the best shot-blocker in the country.
Here’s what we found, broken down by the player heights listed on kenpom.com.
*min. five blocks
The best shot-blocker: West Virginia’s Miles McBride
- 4.4% block percentage
- Nine blocks in 213 minutes
- 0.9 blocks per game
- Butler’s Aaron Thompson (3.1%, nine blocks)
- Buffalo’s Davonta Jordan (2.1%, eight blocks)
- Northern Illinois’ Tyler Cochran (2.9%, five blocks)
- Coastal Carolina’s Keishawn Brewton (2.7%, five blocks)
- Saint Louis’ Demarius Jacobs (2.6%, five blocks)
- High Point’s Curtis Holland (1.9%, six blocks)
- Illinois State’s Ricky Torres (1.9%, five blocks)
*min. four blocks
The best shot-blocker: Buffalo’s Davonta Jordan
- 2.1% block percentage
- Eight blocks in 325 minutes
- 0.7 blocks per game
- Idaho’s Keyshaad Dixon (3.0%, six blocks)
- Alabama State’s Kevin Holston (3.0%, five blocks)
- Iona’s Isaiah Washington (2.5%, four blocks)
- Butler’s Kamar Baldwin (2.4%, six blocks)
- Loyola Chicago’s Marquise Kennedy (2.2%, four blocks)
- Weber State’s Jerrick Harding (2.2%, four blocks)
- Old Dominion’s Malik Curry (2.1%, five blocks)
- Charlotte’s Jahmir Young (2.0%, five blocks)
- Fordham’s Jalen Cobb (2.0%, four blocks)
- High Point’s John-Michael Wright (1.8%, five blocks)
- George Washington’s Jameer Nelson Jr. (1.4%, four blocks)
*Min. three blocks
The best shot-blocker: Morehead State’s Jordan Walker
- 1.7% block percentage
- Five blocks in 363 minutes
- 0.5 blocks per game
- UC Davis’ Damion Squire (2.6%, three blocks)
- Virginia Tech’s Wabiss Bede (1.6%, four blocks)
- Memphis’ Alex Lomax (1.3%, three blocks)
- SEMO’s Alex Caldwell (1.2%, four blocks)
- Northeastern’s Tyson Walker (1.2%, three blocks)
- UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson (1.1%, four blocks)
The best shot-blocker: Drexel’s Matey Juric
- 1.6% block percentage
- Five blocks in 279 minutes
- 0.5 blocks per game
The best shot-blocker: Coastal Carolina’s Josh Peterson
- 4.0% block percentage
- Two blocks in 86 minutes
- 0.2 blocks per game
- Temple’s Alani Moore (1.4%, three blocks)
The best shot-blocker: Virginia’s Kihei Clark
- 1.4% block percentage
- Three blocks in 350 minutes
- 0.3 blocks/game
St. Francis guard Chauncey Hawkins, 5-8, drives for a layup against Notre Dame defenders in a game in 2017.
The best shot-blocker: St. Francis (NY)’s Chauncey Hawkins
- 1.3% block percentage
- Five blocks in 335 minutes
- 0.5 blocks per game
So there’s your answer, St. Francis junior guard Chauncey Hawkins, the team’s leading scorer, is arguably the country’s best, shortest shot-blocker at 5-8 and 165 pounds.
Three of his teammates are tied for the team lead in blocks with nine and they’re 6-9, 6-8 and 6-6. Hawkins, who’s at least a foot shorter than two of them, has more than half as many blocks as them as he has already matched his season-best total (five blocks in 31 games as a freshman) in just 11 games.