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Bluffton’s Keith Cochran leads the team in scoring (13.3 points per game), rebounding (9.1) and blocked shots (5).

Bluffton’s near 7-footer takes game to new heights

Bluffton’s Keith Cochran has always been tall. The changes in the senior’s game have been a little less visible, but not any less important.

“I have always been the tallest person at my grade level,” Cochran said. “The next tallest person is usually a head shorter than me, especially in the lower grades. I was usually a foot taller than most kids in my grade. I have only encountered a few people in basketball that I have looked eye-to-eye with. For me, those are usually the funnest games.”

A 7-footer (on paper), Cochran is officially 6-11 1/4 , which means that he’s really tall.

“I told the team if he was close I would list him at 7 feet,” Bluffton coach Kevin Leising said.

In his final season with the Tigers, Cochran leads the team in scoring (13.3 points per game), rebounding (9.1) and blocked shots (5). He also shoots well from the field (59 percent) and free-throw line (67 percent).

“I am trying to work on my all-around game and getting better on defense and watching my teammates’ back and making sure players aren’t getting past me and getting easy layups,” Cochran said. “The improvement this year came a lot from just running up and down the court and keeping my mobility high, so that my opponent has to keep an eye on me more.”

As a freshman, the Bethel recruit came into the Bluffton program about 6-9 with room to grow.

“I think his offensive game has improved but can still get better from here,” Leising said. “Shot blocking and rebounding are definitely the best parts of his game, and to be a big-time contributor at Bethel, he has to improve offensively. However, he has good touch and that’s a great place to start.”

And Cochran knows he will have to take his game with the Pilots to – um, a higher level.

“In college, there’s going to be a huge strength difference especially just going from high school to college,” he said. “So that’s one area I am going to have to hit hard and make sure I am strong enough to strive off some of those bigger seniors who have been in the college programs for a long time. It’s been great (at Bluffton), and I have improved drastically since my freshman year.”

As far as the size, it comes pretty naturally.

“My mom is pretty tall; she’s about 5-10, and my dad is 6-4 and my grandpa is also 6-4,” Cochran said. “My cousins are the Adlers (6-9 Adams Central standouts) – Jerad and Landon Adler. I have tall blood, so it makes sense that I am tall as well.”

Greg Jones is the High School Sports Editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email gjones@jg.net; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.

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