Junior Spotlight: Ekene Ibekwe

In Arizona's continued search for junior prospects, the recruiting trail stops in Carson, California for Carson High's star wing forward Ekene Ibekwe. Although he names the Wildcats as one of his top schools, the feeling here is that he may be a hometown kid when it comes down to signing day.

Ekene Ibekwe is a 6-9, 200-pound player from Los Angeles' Carson High School. In the highly touted class of 2003, he is rated as one of America's top 50 juniors.

Ibekwe plays all over the floor and has the versatility to become a star at the college level.

"I play the three, four and five," says Ibekwe, who is averaging 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocks per game. "Everybody says (I remind them) of Kevin Garnett with the way I play."

The Minnesota Timberwolves' Garnett is one of the world's premier players. If Ibekwe is anywhere near as talented as KG is, expect the college that he chooses to play for to be in the hunt for big things immediately.

Ibekwe says that he is a player that can shoot from anywhere. He has a good face-up shot, a nice mid-range game and likes to shoot the three also. However, if he had his way he would do something different altogether.

"I love dunking on people," he said. "Shooting, dunking, dunking with both hands, dunking period. That's my favorite thing to do."

The athletic Ibekwe is projected as a "big wing" in college and he has narrowed his choices of potential schools down to quite a list. He includes the following:

"I like Arizona, USC, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgetown, Michigan and Louisville," he said. "I've taken unofficial visits to UCLA and USC and had a good time at the USC-Stanford football game. I will definitely go see Arizona, Kentucky and North Carolina (on his official visits) but as of now I like all of them."

Ibekwe said that while he was growing up he liked North Carolina and UCLA but that nowadays the most important thing that goes into making a decision about where to play college ball centers on the head coach.

"The coach," he says. "Is definitely the most important thing about a college. Lute Olson came to see me at one of my practices during an earlier period and it made me real happy when I saw him.

"But I also have to like the atmosphere of the campus and the area (around the college) period. I'm used to the Sun but if I like the school, I just like the school. It won't matter. Academics are important too. I'm good with math and with numbers so I'll probably major in something (along those lines) but I still have to take the SAT in May."

The 6-9 junior says that he needs to work on rebounding and being "more aggressive" if he is to become the player he wants to be in time for college.

"I'm aggressive," he says. "I just need to be more aggressive. I play with a straight face and a lot of time people think I'm not playing hard when I am."

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