Udoh's UA Surprise

Michigan transfer Ekpe Udoh (6-10, 240) talks about his visit to Arkansas and a date by which he will decide between the Razorbacks, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor.

By Father's Day, somebody's going to have a big center in the fold.

That's a date by which Michigan transfer Ekpe Udoh (6-10, 240), the former Edmond (Okla.) Sante Fe standout and the Big 10's leading shot blocker last season, says he will definitely have a decision made between the University of Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor.

"I want it to be before June 15th because I want to be fair to all parties," Udoh said Tuesday afternoon while finishing up a visit to Arkansas. "I am going to transfer and these schools might have another kid they get if I don't come to their place. I want to get this over with so I can start the second session of summer school, get to know my new teammates and then be ready to go in the fall.

"This is the biggest decision of my iife," Udoh continued. "It's got to be perfect. It's going to be one of these four schools, All of them have a need and fit what I am looking for in a school to finish up my last few years of college."

Udoh's visit to Arkansas – his final of four visits to his quartet of finalists – left him very surprised at what he found in Fayetteville.

"It is so nice here," Udoh said. "You would actually have to come to Arkansas to understand just how great Arkansas is. I didn't think it would be like this, be this great. I really like the players and the coaching staff. I know it would be a good place for me to play at. I know it would be a good fit."

Udoh says he likes what kind of role that Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey sees him playing if he decides to join the Razorback program.

"What we have talked about is how big he is on picking and popping and hitting that 15-footer," Udoh said. "That is instrumental to the college game and even more on the next level. They get up and down the floor. He sees me being a big part of that and bringing my defense and turning it into offense. I love the way he is talking."

Udoh really wants to go to a place with a good strength and conditioning program to help him build up his strength and his frame.

"I also just love their strength and conditioning program as well," Udoh said. "I watched them go through a leg workout and I got so pumped. I am going to go back down there today before I leave so I can see what they are going to do. That's the kind of stuff that helps you get to where you want to be."

Udoh played in all 67 Michigan games the past two seasons while starting 31.

He averaged 6.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game as a sophomore with a whopping 92 blocks while starting 24 of 32 contests.

Udoh was recruited to Michigan by Tommy Amaker, but he was fired and moved on to Harvard with former West Virginia head coach John Beilein taking his place.

"My two years at Michigan were fun," Udoh said. "I met a lot great people, did a lot of networking for life and it was hard to leave. But it was not the coach that recruited me to Michigan had someone come in who probably never knew by name during the recruiting process. Coach Beilein is a great guy and is famous for his style of play, but it didn't really fit me. I appreciate everything Michigan did for me, but it was time to move on.

"That second year was tough on me," Udoh added. "We were 10-22 and it took a toll on me. I really just wanted to get back closer to home, closer to my family so they can come and watch me play. Coming back near home is just the right thing for me to do."

Udoh admits his frail frame coming out of high school was necessarily meant for the Big 10.

"In high school I was skinny and really didn't lift weights at all," Udoh said. "Playing in the Big 10 night in and night out is very physical – it is most physical conference in the country – and I got by on my heart. You have to play with a lot of heart when maybe you don't have the physical abilities.

"During my time at Michigan, I developed my face up game and my defense was a constant," Udoh said. "Defense is one thing I know that you can always count on from me."

Udoh breaks down his other three visits:

OSU: "Coach (Travis) Ford is excited to be there and he has hired a good staff. They want to change the atmosphere and the style of play. But I just don't know about him. He hasn't been there and while he has established that he is good enough to win at UMass, who knows what will happen at Oklahoma State?

"My best friend Obi Muonelo goes to Oklahoma State and it would be a joy to play with him, but he knows I have to do what is truly the best for me," Udoh said. "He tells me that."

OKLAHOMA: "My visit to OU went well," Udoh said. "Coach Capel and his coaching staff are really cool guys, I like they way they play and he has showed he can develop a big player in Longar Longar. That jumps out at me."

BAYLOR: "I like Baylor in part because Coach Drew is more of a European type coach. He wants a style of big man like Kevin Rogers, who is playing there now. I was also blown away by their facilities and what their strength and conditioning guy does."

So who is the favorite at his point?

"It's tough," Udoh said. "They are four great schools. I really can't make a bad decision because of that."

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