Recruiting Updates: Ebi, Ervin and Shakur

Duke apparently has no shame in the recruitment of Ndudi Ebi. First the Blue Devils showed a high level of interest, then they looked like they were leaning heavily towards Luol Deng. Now, however, Duke is acting like they never went away to begin with...Also, find out who might be Arizona's seventh candidate for a scholarship in 2003.

It looks like Duke has come back into the fray of the Ndudi Ebi sweepstakes after all. How it all might look to the Houston-area super prospect, though, is another question entirely.

At the Nike All-America camp last week in Indianapolis, Duke and its three-man recruiting staff of Coack K, Chris Collins and "Wojo" made it pretty obvious that the man they were watching was Luol Deng, a player similar in every way to Ebi. Even when Ebi was playing on the court directly in front of K and Collins, the Blue Devil coaches turned their attention one court to the left to watch Deng's game. No question that Ebi took notice of the slight.

Now, however, with Ebi playing like a potential NBA Lottery pick out of high school in 2003, the Dukies have switched gears and hopped back on the Ebi Bandwagon once again. People in attendance noticed the confidence of the Duke coaches while observing Ebi, who made no effort to conceal their interest and enthusiasm.

Ebi, according to our man Aaron Jones in attendance, has been "by far the best player (at this week's Peach Jam tournament in North Augusta, S.C.)." Jones, a former talent scout involved with the NBA, called in and told Cattracks that Ebi is "a top five pick out of high school. He's a pro, there's no doubt about it. In this senior class it's LeBron (James) one and then Ebi two. Simple as that."

In this morning and this afternoon's Peach Jam sessions, Ebi again posted near triple-doubles in his games. Over the duration of the tournament, Ebi is leading all players in rebounds and blocked shots while placing third in points per game. All of this coming while he's nursing a nagging knee injury, which is considered to be minor. Having two great point guards in 2003's Tack Minor and 2004's Daniel Gibson on his Houston Hoops team certainly hasn't hurt, but it's Ebi that dictates how the game will be played."

Cattracks had the chance to watch both Deng and Ebi numerous times at Nike and now again at Peach Jam. The consensus is that Ebi is vastly superior in running the floor, rebounding and shot blocking. Deng can put the ball on the floor and score from inside or out, but Ebi is more likely to get hot and carry a team offensively than Deng is.

Jones, in a rare commentary note, said, "I have no idea how (Duke's coaches) think they can get back in on Ebi after blatantly shunning him for Deng at Nike."

*Arizona may have found another candidate for one of the three scholarships it will use on the class of 2003 in Brooklyn, NY point guard Gary Ervin.

Ervin was electric at Nike and has continued to impress here at the Peach Jam. He is a tremendous outside shooter with great lift off the floor on his shot, which negates the fact that he's only 5-11. This week he has shown that he can run the offense and make plays from the point guard position just as well as he can shoot and score. It was clear that Arizona head coach Lute Olson was taken by Ervin, as were assistants Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner.

Jones, who spoke with someone close to Ervin from New York said, "It's obvious that Arizona is really impressed with Gary and it's even more obvious that Gary is impressed with Arizona."

Philadelphia-area point guard Mustafa Shakur is still the Wildcats' top priority at point guard but Ervin is probably as hot a commodity in this year's class as there is.

*More on Shakur. The buzz is that Shakur has made it known that he would like to move his official visit to Arizona up and come to Tucson early instead of waiting for Midnight Madness.

"Generally speaking," Jones said. "Having recruits move their visit dates up to earlier in the fall is good news. (Shakur) must be pretty excited about Arizona and in coach Olson. Everything I've been hearing lately is that it's Arizona and Villanova and that Mustafa really likes Arizona's reputation for producing guards that find employment in the NBA."

*Rodney Tention is currently in Miami to watch incoming freshman Andre Iguodala and prospective recruit David Padgett (6-11, 245 C from Reno) participate in the Junior Olympic trials. The event started on Sunday and will run until the 22nd when the final 12-man roster will be announced. Oregon's Ernie Kent is the head coach of the team.

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