Peach Jam Tournament Day One

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC--Cat Tracks correspondent Aaron Jones is on hand at the festivities this week in North Augusta, SC for the Nike-based Peach Jam tournament. He called in to give an update from the first day of action and said that one of Arizona's top targets played better than he has ever seen him play before.

It's no secret that Ndudi Ebi (6-9, 195 WF, Houston Westbury Christian) is Arizona's top priority this recruiting season. The Wildcat coaching staff's strategy at last week's Nike All-America camp consisted of one major ploy: Be seen by Ebi while watching every minute of his games.

Ebi played well enough to be rated among the top three or four players at Nike and has taken it up a notch thus far here at the Peach Jam.

In his first game with his Houston Hoops AAU team, Ebi nearly had a triple-double. He scored from inside and out, shooting the deep ball a lot better than he did last week at Nike, he attacked the glass and grabbed over a dozen rebounds and then he attacked any and everyone venturing into the lane by blocking nine shots. The buzz his game created had people talking about Ebi an hour after the game ended.

Arizona has deployed both Josh Pastner and Rodney Tention to follow Ebi around and make their presence known. It seems that no matter where Ebi plays this summer it is guaranteed that an Arizona coach will be there to see him.

Another of Arizona's top six targets is participating at Peach Jam, 6-9 WF Ekene Ibekwe of Carson, California. His team lost today but Ibekwe played pretty well. His stock went up thanks to a solid ABCD camp in New Jersey last week but he still needs work on staying aggressive on a consistent basis, and not just when he gets mad (or embarrassed).

Because Peach Jam is a Nike event, most of the teams and players in attendance are spillovers from Indianapolis last week. The adidas guys from ABCD, including PG Mustafa Shakur and F/C Brian Butch, are elsewhere. Peach Jam runs from today (Sunday) through Wednesday the 17th and is made up of four six-team groups for round robin play prior to the actual tournament later this week. The championship game is on Wednesday afternoon.

*As soon as Peach Jam has ended, the NCAA mandated dead period will be in effect from the 18th until the 21st. That means no calls, no visits and no contact with recruits whatsoever. After the dead period expires, there will be tournaments in Orlando, Las Vegas (Cattracks will attend the "Big Time" camp in Vegas) Kansas City and Los Angeles (We will be at the "End of Summer" tournament as well) to name a few.

*Talk about incoming Wildcat freshman guard Chris Rodgers' eligibility has become a hot topic of late. A test score that was a few points short might mean that the Wildcats will have to use their partial qualifier exception on Rodgers but the bottom line is that he will be on the roster this season. In fact, Rodgers is already in Tucson, taking a summer course and working out on his own. The Oregon state Player of the Year graduated from Wilson High this June with a 3.29 GPA and a 3.08 Clearinghouse GPA in his core classes. His test shortcomings certainly doesn't mean that he isn't more than smart enough to handle a college courseload because he is. The rest of the guys, returnees and newcomers both, will be on campus for pickup games in early August.

*Aaron Jones had this to say about prospective Arizona recruit Mustafa Shakur: "He's Jason Terry with superior passing skill. He's actually a few inches taller than JT is and he's equally as quick. The long arms and overall ranginess is what stands out about Shakur and that is what reminded me of Terry the most."

He then added: "My sources are telling me that he wants to be a Wildcat; Arizona, not Villanova."

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