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California Golden Bears Fardaws Aimaq has become Canada's all-time NCAA men's division I rebounds leader
California Golden Bears Fardaws Aimaq has become Canada's all-time NCAA men's division I rebounds leader
California Golden Bears Fardaws Aimaq has become Canada's all-time NCAA men's division I rebounds leader - Illustrations: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

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Fardaws Aimaq, Canada’s all-time NCAA rebounds leader

California Golden Bears forward Fardaws Aimaq has surpassed Juan Mendez to become Canada’s all-time NCAA division I men’s college basketball career rebounds leader.

Fardaws Aimaq, a native of Richmond, BC, has earned the title of Canadian NCAA men’s division I rebounding champion.

Aimaq, a sixth-year student-athlete with the California Golden Bears, entered his final, super senior season with 1005 career rebounds and needed only 49 rebounds to surpass Juan Mendez’s (Montreal, Que.) all-time record of 1053 in 123 games.

Playing for third place at the 2023 SoCal Classic tournament against the Tulane Green Wave on November 22nd, Aimaq entered the game with 1049 rebounds.

Needing only five more to surpass the previous 18-year Canadian record, he came out aggressive, cleaning the glass on both ends for four early rebounds.

With 13:20 remaining in the first half, he positioned himself under the basket and between two defenders he secured his second offensive rebound of the game, becoming the new all-time Canadian NCAA Division I rebounding leader in just 100 career games.

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The NCAA began tracking offensive and defensive rebounds at the start of the 1999-2000 season. On his path to becoming Canada’s all-time leading rebounder, Aimaq has secured the most defensive rebounds of any Canadian NCAA Division I player in history and is expected to end his career as the second-highest offensive rebounder, potentially behind Zach Edey.

Fardaws Aimaq NCAA rebounds per season totals

As a 19-year-old freshman with the Mercer Bears, Aimaq snagged 153 rebounds in 29 games to finished second on the team in total rebounds and first with an average of 5.3 per game.

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Following the firing of long time Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman, who was instrumental in recruiting Aimaq to Hawkins Arena in Macon, Georgia, he decided to hit the transfer portal and relocate to Utah Valley.

Forced to sit out a year as required by previous NCAA transfer rules, he watched from the sidelines and worked tireless as his new head coach Mark Madsen, a former two-time (2001, 2002) NBA champion with the Lakers, pushed him to the limits with hopes of developing Aimaq into an NBA prospect.

The redshirt season’s work paid off immediately. As a sophomore, Aimaq put his name in the national spotlight by racking up 330 rebounds in 22 games, thus solidifying his name as the first Canadian to lead the NCAA division I men’s basketball in rebounds. His 15.0 average was also the highest of any player since 1980.

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As a junior, he continued his assault on the boards, achieving a career high of 435 rebounds in 32 games. Looking to bolster his potential NBA resume and silence the NCAA high major critics, Aimaq once again hit the transfer portal in search of an opportunity to play in a power six conference.

Unfortunately, during his senior year, Aimaq was hindered by a persistent preseason, right foot injury and only managed to grab 87 rebounds in 11 games for the Texas Red Raiders. To make matters worse, suspended head coach Mark Adams resigned after making unintentional racially insensitive comments towards one of his players.

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Reluctant to conclude his career on a negative note, Aimaq entered the transfer portal for an unprecedented third time. Opting to make the most of the additional year granted due to the pandemic, often dubbed the “super senior” year, he decided to extend his collegiate journey.

Now healthy and reunited with Coach Madsen at his fourth school in six years for his final super senior season, he has already grabbed 76 rebounds in just seven games. It is expected that he will once again challenge for the national rebounding crown and break his previous personal records.

After leading for much of the game, the Golden Bears dropped a close 84-81 contest to Tulane as Aimaq finished the night with 23 points and 14 rebounds, his 48th double-double of his career.

History of all-time Canadian NCAA rebound record

Bob Houbregs, from Vancouver, BC, established the initial Canadian NCAA record for rebounds by collecting 971 of them in 91 games during his illustrious three-season stint (1950-1953) with the Washington Huskies.

The record stood for 45 years until Todd MacCulloch (Winnipeg, MB), also a Huskies alumnus, surpassed Houbregs’ longstanding achievement by four rebounds, concluding his career with 974 rebounds in 114 games (1996-1999).

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It didn’t take long for MacCulloch’s record to be eclipsed. Six years later, former Niagara Purple Eagles Hall-of-Famer Juan Mendez (Montreal, QC) became the first Canadian to grab over 1,000 career rebounds from 2002 to 2005. He set both the previous rebounding and scoring records with 2,210 points and 1,053 rebounds in 123 games.

Former six-foot-six Iowa State Cyclone forward Melvin Ejim became the second Canadian player to reach 1000-plus rebounds and came up two rebounds shy of tying Mendez with 1051 rebounds in 135 games from 2011-2014.

Now, 18 years later, Aimaq has rewritten the record books by becoming Canada’s all-time NCAA rebounding king in only 100 games.

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Fardaws Aimaq and Zach Edey: ‘Big Maple’ race to the top

Although Aimaq has set the new Canadian career rebounding record, he will have to continue producing at a high clip if he wants to hold onto the title at the end of his career.

Zach Edey, the reigning and first Canadian NCAA men’s player of the year, is also on track to surpass Mendez’s previous mark and become just the fourth Canadian player with 1000-plus career rebounds, as well as the second all-time leader.

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Despite playing an additional two years of NCAA college basketball, undergoing three transfers, and having a significant age gap of three years and 128 days, Imaq (94) had fewer career games under his belt than Edey (99) at the start of the 2023-24 season.

With Aimaq missing the majority of the 2022-23 season and the Texas Tech Red Raiders failing to reach the NCAA tournament, the doorway was left wide open for Zach Edey to make up additional ground and position himself in the top spot.

Becoming the second Canadian to be crowned NCAA rebounding king, Edey grabbed a career-best 438 rebounds in 34 games, setting a Canadian single-season record. This surpassed Aimaq’s previous single-season record of 435 rebounds in 32 games during the 2020-21 season.

Subsequently, Edey outrebounded Aimaq by +351 (438-87) and closed the significant rebounding gap (918-409) that existed between the two players at the start of the 2022-23 season.

However, Purdue’s shocking first-round exit to 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson Knights dashed Edey’s hopes of closing the rebounding gap further between the two all-time Canadian rebounding giants.

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At the beginning of this season (2023-24), there was a 158-rebound difference between the two players. Whether Edey can narrow the margin and surpass Aimaq will be closely monitored and will ultimately depend on variety of factors including injuries and how far Purdue can advance in the Big Ten Championship, and the NCAA March Madness tournament.

If the Boilermakers can secure additional games by going deep into both tournaments, Edey may be able to close the gap and snatch the rebounding crown from Aimaq, just like they both crowned themselves “Big Maple” – with all due respect to the original “Big Maple,” James Paxson. 🍁

There is also the possibility that Edey activates in his super senior season and returns to college basketball for a fifth year, though the probability is low. If that were to occur, Edey would likely shatter all offensive and defensive NCAA records for a Canadian player.

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