PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s no surprise that basketball players are tall, but one Western Pa. college player is a head and shoulders above the rest.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania basketball team junior center Blake Vedder is easy to spot. At 7 feet 3 inches, Vedder is the tallest player in IUP history.
IUP Head Coach Joe Lombardi recruited Vedder from Rhode Island. Now the coach has the second tallest college basketball player on his team.
“It’s exciting because you got someone to develop … there’s only so many big guys like that and it’s exciting to see how far we can bring him along in a short period of time,” Lombardi said.
“I’m still learning, there’s a couple things, I mean, Coach Lombardi will be the first one to tell you I got a lot of work to do, but I’ve made tremendous strides in the five months I’ve been here,” Vedder said.
“Tremendous strides” is an appropriate way to put it for a guy whose legs are about four feet long.
“I’m a spike in the gene pool, my dad’s about 6-4 and a half-ish … you can look at almost any picture of my childhood and you can always pick me out – blonde hair, skinny kid,” Vedder said. “Towering above everybody.”
Vedder has a pretty good attitude about his height; after all, he’s dealt with the stares all his life.
“I used to absolutely hate it,” Vedder said. “I use to dread going places, going out with people. You know, I’d wear a big coat or a hat over my face, stuff like that. I’d have fun with it.”
“The guys like to hang out with him because the girls all want to take a picture with him,” Lombardi said. “I think they get a few phone numbers along the way.”
Vedder says he can spot people whispering and talking about his height when he’s walking around campus, but deals with it.
“I’ve learned to have fun with it,” he said. “Then learn to just sort of accept it, because it’s not going to go anywhere. I’m going to be this tall, maybe taller.”