C’s Finding Tacko to be Much More Than Just a 7-foot-6 Wonder
BOSTON – As Tacko Fall traded places with fellow Celtics rookie Grant Williams in a media scrum Monday afternoon, he offered his teammate an outstretched hand for a simple high-five. Only it wasn’t so simple for Williams.
Despite being 6-foot-7, Williams still couldn’t reach the palm of his 7-foot-6 frontcourt partner from a standing position. He had to leap off the ground in order to comply, much to the amusement of both he and Fall.
In a sport of giants, Fall towers above all. Even the 10-foot rim doesn’t stand a chance against the Senegalese center, as his fingertips stretch two and a half inches above the iron while standing flat-footed.
As could be imagined, Fall has used his incredible stature to his benefit throughout his basketball career.
“I’m always the biggest guy on the floor,” Fall told reporters at the Auerbach Center. “I’ve worked on a lot of things that have helped me get used to my height, get used to my weight (310 pounds), helped me move up and down. I take advantage of that.”
Fall certainly took advantage of his size at the collegiate level, as it allowed him to be a force in multiple facets of the game during his four years at the University of Central Florida.
On the offensive end, Fall utilized his massive presence at the rim to become the most efficient scorer in NCAA history. He shot a record 73.96 percent from the field while averaging 10.1 points per game. In 31 of the 115 contests he appeared in, Fall recorded a perfect, 100 percent shooting clip.
He was also a nightmare for opposing offenses, as he tallied 7.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, all while averaging 23.0 minutes of playing time.
Having immense height, however, doesn’t always guarantee success in the NBA. Historically, players who stand well over 7-foot have lacked the speed and skill to compete at the game’s highest level, which may have been why no NBA team was willing to take a chance on Fall in the Draft.
The Celtics, however, were intrigued enough sign him onto their Summer League squad, and so far through three practices, they have been pleasantly surprised by what they’ve seen.
“I think most of us, and I don’t want to speak for everyone on the court, but I think we’ve been very impressed with him,” said Summer League head coach Scott Morrison. “Everyone expected him to be really slow, but he’s shown a mobility that we weren’t necessarily ready for. Even in the scrimmage we just had he beat some guys down the floor, caught the ball at the rim, kept the ball up and dunked. We’ve been really happy with him. He’s shown some toughness, and like everyone else on the roster here, has a real desire to learn and do the right thing, so that makes it easier for the coaches.”
As for his peers, Fall is providing them with great challenges during practice. Sophomore big man Robert Williams is looking to use Summer League as a platform to earn a significant minutes increase in his second NBA season, and going up against Fall is bringing out the best in him so far.
“I’ve loved it since we got Tacko here, man,” said Williams, who stands eight inches shorter than Fall. “He’s a great player to go against. I’ll accept him blocking my shot, if anybody – you can’t run from 7-6. But he’s been working hard too, he’s been grinding, picking things up, doing his best.”
Fall will get the opportunity to put all of that hard work on display Saturday, when the Celtics tip-off Summer League play against the Philadelphia 76ers in Las Vegas. If he continues to impress, Fall could find himself on an NBA roster this coming season. And he’s hoping that team will be the Celtics.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Fall stated. “I have to come in and prove every day that I deserve to be here. That’s what I have to do – every day come out and compete. Do everything the right way.”
Fall's incredible height will absolutely play a role in his ability to compete during the summer session, though he's here to prove that he is more than just a 90-inch wonder. So far, he's on the right track.