Posted On: 01/15/19 11:57 AM
When the news came out that Will Thomas had suffered a Jones’ fracture and would miss the season, the high expectations that Mervo had quickly dissolved. Thomas was such a big part of the team’s success from the prior season, but with ever situation similar to this, it gives others the opportunity to step up and show out. One of those players for Mervo has been junior big man Elijah Rantin.
Rantin transferred to Mervo this summer after spending his first two years of high school at Overlea. After playing his freshmen year on junior varsity, Rantin sat out his sophomore season. Mervo was excited for the fact they now had an inside presence. Rantin stands 6-foot-9 with a long wingspan. This was something the Mustangs didn’t have last season and caused major issues when they faced Perry Hall in the state tournament.
I first saw Rantin this past summer at a team camp at Towson University and various summer leagues. I evaluated him as being extremely raw. You could tell he had taken some time off away from the game and still hadn’t adjusted to his body quite yet.
As a team, Mervo got off to a rough start, but has since righted the ship thanks to Rantin and guard Demonee Carter putting up big numbers. I recently watched both players lead their team to a win against Milford Mill in the Baltimore Hoops Festival event.
“Losing Will was tough,” Rantin continued, “it meant that someone had to step up and score more. Our defense has always been good, but scoring was an issue. When we let our defense set the tempo for the game, our offense comes to us.”
Rantin scored 21 points in the win and had a handful of powerful two-handed dunks that showed his progression in the last few months.
“Playing in the fall leagues really helped me adjust to city basketball,” Rantin told Prep Hoops. “When I played at Overlea, the teams weren’t really competitive, so playing against teams in the city and private school teams really helped me.”
Even without Thomas on the floor setting him up for easy looks, you can tell a major difference in Rantin’s confidence. Mervo has multiple guards who can get into the paint, so he gets his fair share of opportunities.
Because he’s scoring more, Rantin seems more engaged in the game, which shows in his aggression on the boards. Not only defensively, but he also feasts off of offensive rebounds using his length to gather the ball and quickly put it back in the bucket as the defense scatters to the rim.
Rantin’s offensive attack is limited to being strictly around the rim to this point. He’s made major strides since the summer and continues to work on expanding his game so he can become an even bigger threat.
“I’m focusing on my ball handling,” Rantin said. “With that, it’ll allow me to create my own shot and not depend on the guards to get me looks.”
It’s clear that the Mervo staff and Rantin focus on development, so seeing him adapt more into his offensive repertoire won’t be a surprise, but it’ll take time.
Rantin recently received his first offer from Coppin State. Temple has been a school he has also heard from and took an unofficial to. With his size and continued aggressiveness, he’ll be a big that mid-to-low majors want to keep an eye on.