My girlfriend, an avid Wildcat fan who was sitting on the couch next to me when Ebi was picked, didn't flinch either. Instead, she succinctly summed up the Ebi situation.
"You know what sucks?" she said. "David Stern knew exactly how to pronounce Zarko Cabarkapa's name, but he struggled with Ebi's. That is karma at its worst."
We both had expected more for Ebi than to have the commissioner do a double-take at his draft card on the biggest night of his life. I am not a prophet, so I cannot say for sure that Ebi made the wrong decision by making the jump to the NBA, but I had envisioned things unfolding differently for him. I had imagined his draft night, two years later. I could foresee David Stern in the warm-up room before the draft, reading his phonetic cue cars into the mirror:
I know now that my vision for Ebi was nothing more than a pipe dream, and I should have realized it long before I did.
When the hype from the coaching staff changed from, "Ebi's definitely coming" to "it has always been his dream to play in the NBA," I realized what I had been putting out of my mind for the last few months: Ebi had no interest in the University of Arizona whatsoever. Ebi never acted like he had any intentions of coming here. He had always carried himself with the attitude and arrogance of an NBA player, because that is what he already was in his mind.
It should have been clear to everyone during the McDonald's All-American Game when Ebi walked onto the floor with a swagger that implied, "I am going to the League," that Arizona was not his destination.
When the commentators proclaimed, "Ebi said that he is here to open some eyes," and "Ebi said that he wants to be the MVP of this game," it should have set off some red flags that he was a player who was planning for something bigger than college.
Every time Ebi was in the spotlight it was clear he had no interest in collegiate ball. I was just too naive to realize it. I made the same mistake the Arizona coaches did and trusted the word of an 18-year-old kid when his actions told the real story.
I do not look down on Ebi for his choice to bounce to the NBA. If I were in his shoes and I had an agent promising me that I would be a first-round draft choice, I probably would've made the jump myself. What does frustrate me is the ugly dishonesty that permeated the whole process.
I am truly disgusted with the way that Ebi misrepresented himself.
There is a major discrepancy between the words of pre-draft Ebi who said, "I'm keeping my options open" and post-draft statements such as, "I never had any intentions of coming."
Arizona pissed away money, energy, and time on Ebi. It signed him and secured his spot based on his word. The way that things unfolded is the ugly reality that is big-time college recruiting. The fact is that there are players with big attitudes, big agendas, and no regard for the people and programs in their way. Sometimes these players bounce to the NBA and flourish; sometimes they end up in Europe as "could've," "should've," and "would've" been players.
As much as it may appear to be the contrary, I do not want to see Ebi playing in Europe in a couple of years. I wish him a productive NBA career so that he can look back and say, "see, I was ready for the NBA." In reality, I just do not see that happening, though. He is 6'9" and doesn't even weigh 200 pounds when he's wet.
For sure the NBA will beef him up and sharpen his skills, but basketball is a game of confidence. We'll just have to wait and see if Ebi has the mental strength and integrity that it will take to make it in the NBA. But if he ends up out of the League in a couple of years and all of the big promises that were made to him turn into empty lies, then it is all on him.
And that would be karma at its worst.