Carvacho closing in on historic rebounding mark in breakout year

Eddie Herz

Four years ago, Nico Carvacho was an unranked recruit. Now, the redshirt junior is the nation’s leading rebounder, averaging 12.8 boards per game.

To solidify his legacy as the best rebounder to wear a Colorado State uniform, Carvacho needs only 19 more rebounds.

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Plenty of centers have rolled through Fort Collins over the program’s century-long chronicle, quite a few talented ones as well. A player like Carvacho doesn’t come along very often though. The center’s story is less one of raw talent and more one of willingness to exert extra effort to improve every day. Above all, persistence has helped Carvacho close in on the historic mark. 

Carvacho wasn’t the most physical player in high school and even early in his collegiate career. The 6-foot-11-inch center didn’t receive very much attention during the recruiting process. CSU was the only school that gave Carvacho a chance, and he has worked from day one to prove the Rams right.

“I always was one of those players that played hard and did whatever I could for the team,” Carvacho said. “I came here; this was my only offer, zero stars. I just worked hard when I was redshirted … I continued to learn from my mistakes and grow confidence.”

Nico Carvacho tries catching a rebound ball during the game against San Houston State Dec. 8, 2018. The Rams won 71-65. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)

Though every snag off the glass has contributed equally to Carvacho’s combined 832 rebounds over the last three years, this season has been something special. The center has improved since first stepping on the court for the Rams during the 2016-17 season. However, Carvacho has flourished into a nationwide force to be reckoned with this year.

The center is averaging 2.5 more rebounds per game this season compared to last. After recording 11 double-doubles his redshirt sophomore year, Carvacho has already notched 15 this season. Notably, he tied Emmanuel Omogbo’s program record of 28 in the team’s loss to Nevada. 

Carvacho is also the CSU all-time leader in 20-point, 20-rebound performances. Two such outings this season give him three in his career.

CSU Head Coach Niko Medved has relied much more on Carvacho. Despite this, the center never batted an eye. All Carvacho did was elevate his game in every way.

In addition to improving his rebounding frequency, Carvacho is averaging 6.5 more points per game this season than last (15.7).

“He is just getting better all the time, and he is getting confidence in himself,” Medved said. “He gives relentless effort on the glass. It is amazing when he has so many guys that are trying to keep him off the glass; he’s at the top of everyone’s scouting report. We are asking him to carry more of the load on offense, to play more minutes than he has ever played. When we are asking him to do all of those things it is even more impressive what he is doing.”

Nico Carvacho dunks the ball after a fast break as the Rams battle the MSU Bobcats Nov. 14, 2018. CSU wins 81-77. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

While Carvacho’s leap this season is remarkable for many reasons, it hasn’t struck CSU players as shocking. More than anyone, Carvacho’s teammates see how hard he works day in and day out.

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Since the start of his collegiate career, Carvacho’s teammates have waited for him to start notching achievements to his belt. Potential has always been evident.

“This is the most improvement I’ve seen from him,” redshirt junior Anthony Masinton-Bonner said. “But … it doesn’t surprise me. Since we’ve been here, he is always in the gym early, always in the gym late. He puts in the work and deserves this more than anyone. I’m just super proud of him. We talked about it in the offseason last year. I told him, ‘You better lead the nation in rebounds after that.’”

Individual accolades aside, Carvacho is a team player. While Carvacho prioritizes winning CSU’s next game, becoming the Rams’ all-time leading rebounder holds significance to him.

Tallying 19 more rebounds will speak even further to Carvacho’s relentless work ethic. Achieving the record with a full season yet to be played adds to the admirability of the accomplishment as well.

“It is just setting a legacy,” Carvacho said. “When you leave here, it is about who is going to remember you. I can show my kids one day if it is still there. Just showing that I tried to make an impact as most I could on the team.”

Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz.