Newark's Kenneth Faried thought it was a practical joke last summer when his former high school coach handed him the phone and said it was[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]on the other end. It was no joke. The Hall of Fame rebounding demon was on the line, offering him words of encouragement, words that may have put the undersized power forward in the position he is today. Faried is a projected mid-first-round pick in the June 23 draft.
Faried, the Morehead State senior power forward, is on the Knicks' radar. Team president[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]would love to add a solid rebounder to help Amar'e Stoudemire in a draft that doesn't have a 7-footer, according to measurements released at yesterday's combine. As such, there's a growing belief the relentless board man could be picked before the Knicks pick at 17, although one scout thought he struggled in various offensive drills.
HOMETOWN HERO: Kenneth Faried, a rebounding machine at Morehead State, hopes to be invited to next month's NBA draft, which will be held in his hometown of Newark.
"He's a great rebounder," Walsh told The Post yesterday. "He's got energy. Some called him a Ben Wallace. There's nothing wrong with that. We're looking at him. We're looking at all of them."
The next Wallace wouldn't be bad at all. The next Rodman, elected into the Hall of Fame this year, would be even better.
"He encouraged me to keep playing hard, hustling and make a name for [myself] by being a hustle guy," Faried said of the Rodman phone chat. "Don't let anyone hold you back or stop you. Everyone will say you're an undersized guy, don't let that intimidate you. He said be like him on the court, but don't act like him off the court."
Faried, who averaged 17.3 points and 14.3 rebounds, is ready to follow Rodman's plea to the letter. Faried wears his hair in long dreadlocks, but has no Rodman-like piercings, his body isn't covered in tattoos and he has no dress in his wardrobe. He just rebounds and comes off as a wholesome kid. He spoke thoughtfully of the pain in having to break it to his mother a year ago he was about to be the father of an infant daughter.
"It did inspire me," Faried said of Rodman's talk. "It inspired me to want to be great and a Hall of Famer like he was. It made me feel I could be like him on the court."
Faried measured, without shoes, is only 6-foot-6, but he has a healthy 7-foot wingspan.
"If he was 6-9, he'd be the top pick in this draft," ESPN analyst[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]said. "He's got deficiencies but he's got one major-league skill -- rebounding. And he's low-maintenance guy; nothing off the court you have to worry about."
Faried, though, is plenty confident. He believes he can post a 30-rebound night in the NBA.
"With my height, people don't really think I can maintain it at the next level, but I believe in myself," Faried said. "My strength is rebounding and defense and my motor. I have a quick first jump and my second jump is probably more amazing and is quicker than my first jumper. I'm relentless."
With the scouting report pegging him as offensively challenged, Faried is nonplussed. The big fear is he becomes another Ronaldo Balkman rather than Rodman or Big Ben.
"When the ball's anywhere around the rim, I can go up and get it, and that's a great and attribute to have," Faried said when asked if he had any offensive skills.
Faried rooted more for the Nets, who select 28th, than Knicks growing up Newark and Jersey City.
"I was a great Nets fan," Faried said. "In high school [at Technology H.S.] one time when they came out, I spoke to Vince Carter, Jason Kidd. They stopped to wish me good luck."
But he'd be fine landing with the Knicks.
"It would be a great place to play, the Garden is loud," Faried said. "Amar'e [Stoudemire] and Carmelo Anthony are two great payers. They play hard and I can push their level higher to make them play harder and try to win a championship."
The draft will be in his backyard -- at Newark's Prudential Center.
"If I'm invited, it would be great to be there," Faried said. "It's my hometown. a lot of friends are talking to me about getting tickets. I don't know if I'll be lottery. We'll see if they invite me."
[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
The Knicks do need to fill two positions in the 2011 draft.....a Center & SG
There are two players I havnt seen mention alot b/c they may become 2nd round
(like Landry Fields) draft picks:
I'm targeting Jordan Williams from Maryland. He is young, big bodied space eater.
Can score the ball in the paint and draw many fouls. Most of all I like his toughness
and slightly ****y attitude which will give us some swag down low against oponents
If Landry Fields stay as our starting-SG, and Toney Douglas stay as our backup PG Marshon Brooks 6'5" shooting guard from providence could tandem up with
Douglas to give us a scoring punch off the bench. This dude can go off and score in a
hurry from behind the arc and taking it to the rack! This guy will give us a viable burst off
the bench down the road.