Getting To Know 2008: Emmanuel Negedu

With three tournaments, hundreds of teams and thousands of players, seeing everything there is to see at the July Las Vegas AAU camps is impossible. It's sort of like the Disney World of prep basketball prospects. You simply can't do everything in one trip. Just like it is impossible to sample all that the Disney complex has to offer, you can't see all the kids you want to see.

Because of that, I can honestly say I have never seen any of the lower age divisions. In most cases, all of the top players, regardless of age, compete in the 17 & Under divisions. Any 15 or 16 year old worth seeing was playing with the older players.

That is why I was as surprised as anyone to be in a gym watching a 16 & Under game.

It was strange enough that I was straying from the plan. You see, I plan out the first few days of the Vegas trip in an effort to maximize prospect viewing. I actually bust out the spread sheet, and map everything out as best I can.

When I was told I had to see a player, a player that the Wildcat coaches had been out to see a few times. A player that few had been talking about, but soon would. When I heard about this kid I strayed from the plan and went out to the Tarkanian Center to see this player.

Who I saw was Emmanuel Negedu.

To be honest I thought people were saying MEGA-doo and it sounded like a monster that Godzilla would battle in the movies. Oh, he was a monster all right, a monster dunker.

Strolling into the steamy, corrugated metal gymnasium it only took a few minutes to spot the kid. I mean how many 6-8, athletic, muscular power forwards do you see competing with 15 and 16 year olds. He was the type of player that that the saying "a man among boys" was coined for.

Physically mature, explosive, athletic, Negedu began to impress in warm-ups and it did not dissipate once the game tipped off for real.

From moment one Negedu showed that he was a hustle player. He was the first player down the floor on the break and can really move. He plays hard and tough, and can throw down with the best of them. He looks like he could be an Amare Stoudamire or Shaun Kemp type with more work and a little more height.

And Negedu could still grow. He came to America from Nigeria at 6-5 and a tad under 200 pounds. He's now in the 6-8, 230 neighborhood. He has discovered the benefits of the weight room and is still learning the game.

His is a great story. On the journey to the States the bus he was on came under gunfire and Negedu had to find alternative transportation to the airport in Lagos, Nigeria. Negedu wound up taking a cab the rest of the way, and although he misses his family, he has no regrets about coming to the United States.

"This has been a great decision for me to come to Brewster and I'm happy I made it," Negedu told back in September. "I wouldn't change anything. I know it would be nice to be with my family, but I know I'll have to be away from them at some point, anyway, and my family needs me to help them."

Right now Iowa, Iowa State and Arizona lead for Negedu's services, but as he starts to hit the big boy circuit, expect more teams to get involved.

Wildcat coaches have been out to see Negedu at the Brewster Academy and he is among the top big man prospects for the Cats in a class where they probably need to add a pair of big men.

Negedu would be another project, but one who could be tailor made for the Arizona up-tempo system. With his ability to run the floor and finish on the break, he's fit in well. He needs to develop more of a well rounded offensive game and could be a better rebounder, but he has the athleticism and explosiveness to be one to watch.

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