To hear him tell it, each time Emporia State's Lamar Wilbern goes to get a rebound, it's more than just angles to the basket and boxing out.
It's more like a sixth sense.
"I don't really know how to describe it other than I just see it happen before it actually happens," Wilbern said. "It's always been like that, where I kind of just know where the ball is going to come off at. After that, there's no technique involved, I just want the ball more than anybody else."
It's hard to argue with the last part of Wilbern's statement after taking a look at his numbers.
Never miss a local story.
The 6-foot-2 senior guard led the Hornets in scoring and rebounding last year with 15.9 points and 7.1 rebounds as Emporia State finished third in the MIAA and Wilbern was a second-team all-league selection.
For a guard, Wilbern's rebounding numbers were gaudy. And he's decided to up the ante for this season.
"I want to average 10 rebounds per game," Wilbern said. "That's my goal."
The Hornets are picked to finish third in the MIAA this season in the coaches' poll and fourth in the media poll, due in large part to Wilbern, 6-5 guard Jeremiah Box (10.9 points) and guard Tim Niles, an All-MIAA defensive selection.
"The biggest thing that surprises me about the MIAA is the level of competition, top to bottom," Wilbern said. "One night you can beat Southwest Baptist and the next you might lose to Truman."
Emporia State also has a decided home-court advantage, going 12-2 at home last season and ranking among the top teams in NCAA Division II in attendance, averaging just more than 2,000.
That's a big difference from Wilbern's junior-college days, when he played for Hamilton (Neb.) College, now Kaplan College. During that time, Wilbern had to live in a church after his dorms were bought by a private company and played in front of just a handful of people — maybe 20-40, he said.
"It's a very, very close-knit community that really supports this team," Wilbern said. "And when you step out on the floor and see all of those people, it can be hard for the other team, and for you it makes it so you have that extra little motivation."