Ndudi Ebi gets red carpet treatment

The Arizona coaching staff was pushing hard and hoping for a commitment out of 6-10 high school All-American Ndudi Ebi when he was in town last weekend for his official visit. Although Ebi left without giving his commitment, both sides seem to feel comfortable with where they stand with one another.

It's obvious that Arizona offered Ebi a scholarship at some point during his stay in Tucson, but what's not obvious is why, if Ebi likes Arizona as much as he says he does, the 6-10 wing forward from Houston didn't accept that offer.

"First of all," Ebi said. "Everyone offers me (a scholarship) on the spot. I know how bad everyone wants me but it's going to be until after fall when I finish my list (of favorite schools)."

Before you read too much into that quote and decide that Ebi's a lost cause, know also that he said almost immediately afterwards, "they (Arizona) are my favorites but there are others in the mix".

Ebi arrived in Tucson on Thursday night and was greeted by Arizona assistant coach, and Houston native, Josh Pastner. Pastner and Wildcat All-American guard Jason Gardner served as Ebi's hosts during his stay. And for a guy rated as one of the top five prospects in the entire class of 2003, you can be sure that Arizona rolled out the red carpet for Ebi for the duration of his visit.

"(Pastner and Gardner) showed me around the campus," Ebi said. "There were nice facilities and I really enjoyed (my visit). I felt comfortable with the coaching staff and the players and that's important."

Just as Carson (CA.) High prospect Ekene Ibekwe did, Ebi joined the team at head coach Lute Olson's house for dinner one night.

"I had a nice conversation with Lute when we went to his house," Ebi said. "He let me know how much he wanted me to play there. He told me that he liked having me around and liked talking with me. He said he'd love to have me there."

Ebi said that it was "an honor" having a coach as distinguished as Olson show that kind of interest in him and says the sincerity and intent of that conversation won't be lost on him. He already clicked with a few of the current Wildcats, especially when he played a game of pickup with some of the guys.

"I played pickup one day and I really liked Dennis Latimore," Ebi said, echoing Ibekwe's sentiment about the Wildcat sophomore-to-be. "Isaiah Fox and Channing Frye were cool, too. I liked those guys a lot."

Arizona and all the other schools courting Ebi now must wait until June 21st to contact him as per NCAA rules. Duke and Texas are believed to be the other two frontrunners in the "Indy" Ebi sweepstakes but there's still plenty of time for a darkhorse or two to play themselves into contention for his services. A lot more will be known come July, when the summer camps begin in earnest.

Sources close to the program and to Ebi have indicated recently that Arizona is probably No. 1 on Ebi's list right now. And that pretty much signifies that it will be quite some time before Ebi commits since he didn't make a pledge while he was here. Earliest possible scenario would be to have Ebi commit shortly before or at the July camps; otherwise, it might be until September or later because the entire month of August is an NCAA-enforced "dead period".

Getting a commitment from Ebi would surely have made the 19-hour flight to Australia on Saturday that much more bearable for Olson and Co. But as it stands now, patience will have to suffice.


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