Star recruit has trouble with "The Murph&quot

You know you have an elite level basketball program when your student managers are beating national top 50 recruits on a consistent basis in one-on-one games. That's what happened this past weekend when 6-9 Carson (CA.) High power forward Ekene Ibekwe came to town for his official visit.

Ibekwe, a highly sought after recruit from southern California, got into a game of one-on-one with Arizona manager Jack "Murph" Murphy during his stay and didn't exactly dominate the way one would expect him to.

"He beat me a couple of times," Ibekwe said with an embarrassed laugh. "He just kept shooting from deep. No one really knew about it though, so it didn't get out."

Until now, of course.

After taking his ACT on Saturday morning, Ibekwe got on a plane and traveled to Tucson that afternoon. His hosts, Murph and assistant coach Josh Pastner, took him around campus for the general tour and then had him meet some of the current Wildcats.

"All the guys were really cool," Ibekwe said. "I already knew Andrew Zahn because I played with his brother (Oregon-bound forward Adam Zahn). I mostly hung out with the freshmen: Channing (Frye), Isaiah (Fox), Fil (Torres) and Andrew. Dennis Latimore was very cool, I went out to eat with him. It was only my first trip but it was really fun. It was the same as I expected it to be. All the players and coaches were great."

The 6-9 multi-talented Ibekwe said he left campus without getting offered a scholarship by the staff, but "it seemed like they really were interested in me".

He doesn't know which four schools he'll take the remainder of his visits to but he says that he has plenty of time and that "I've got to pick them wisely". Those schools that have been mentioned before on Ibekwe's short list include UCLA, USC, North Carolina and Kansas.

Some of the freshmen, along with co-hosts Murphy and Pastner, took him along with them to the softball game on Sunday and then to coach Olson's house for a team get together later that evening.

"I liked the area and I liked Tucson," Ibekwe said. "It was a real cool trip."

Imagine how much he would have liked his visit had he actually beaten Arizona's team manager. If nothing else, that should keep Ibekwe humble for a while.

{TheThrill22 can be reached via e-mail at}

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