BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — There’s nothing sweeter than revenge, especially on the biggest stage.
While many college basketball fans watched Alabama and Maryland duke it out for a spot in the Sweet 16, Charles Bediako was having his own personal competition against Maryland’s Julian Reese. With Bediako representing IMG Academy and Reese championing St. Frances Academy, the now-Maryland forward had one of his better games against the Canadian in 2020.
Three years later, Bediako got the better of Reese as the Crimson Tide punched its ticket to the Sweet 16 thanks to a 73-51 victory over the Terapins.
“That was kind of a personal game for me,” Bediako said. “I played him in high school and his team got the best of my team. I played good, but they got the win. … I can’t remember but I’m pretty sure we lost by 11 so seeing him today I said ‘Ok it’s a little bit of a revenge game.’ I was glad we came out on the positive end of it.”
The jovial Bediako was a bit more serious than normal before the game and that pent-up aggression reached a new height when Reese opened the scoring 40 seconds into the game.
“I saw it in his eyes, it was like ‘Nah that’s not going to happen ever again,’” Nimari Burnett said. “That’s the type of mentality Charles can get into. He can literally shut the opponent out. Seeing him become the anchor of our defense throughout the season is exciting to see especially at this time of the year.”
Reese and Bediako clashed all night long with the two talking a bit of trash talk to each other after battling for rebounds. The height of the mouthing off reached its peak when the 7-footer did his best Dennis Rodman impression, tipping the ball up in the air twice before finally snatching it away from Reese, which led to an offensive foul.
Bediako held up four fingers, counting how many fouls the Maryland forward had in the game which was met with an eye-roll and Resse pleading his case to the official.
The idea of Bediako trash-talking brought a smile to Burnett’s face who was on the receiving end of a few of the center’s quips during practice.
“He says little small things that if you don’t hear it, that’s on you, but that’s how he feels,” Burnett said. “Whether or not they hear it or not or whether or not we hear it or not, you can see it on his face when he gets those stops.”
While Bediako showed plenty of his mean streak holding Reese to 14 points and two rebounds, accepting the mantra as Alabama’s rim protector was a bit of a process for him. His gentle giant demeanor off the court doesn’t mix with the snarl of the rim protector, but Jahvon Quinerly is one of the teammates who is constantly forcing him to be a little meaner on the floor.
“I love the type of person he is but there are times I tell him, ‘Bro you’re too nice. You gotta be mean sometimes,’” Quinerly said. “I’m just really happy for him. I’ve seen him really grow and he’s been great for us.”
Bediako’s snarl became the push Alabama needed to down a physical Maryland team. After recording his third double-double of the season, Alabama head coach Nate Oats hopes he’ll pack his “Angry Chuck” persona when the team travels to Louisville.
“He’s very soft-spoken,” Oats said. “But the whole angry Chuck deal is very true. He has a side of him that comes out when we need it to come out. Part of his offensive rebounding is him playing aggressive and hard. Punishing the switches. He gets them on the guards. He gets them on the bigs too.