Arizona Lands Top Power Forward
If Ndudi Ebi's goal was to create suspense, get the rumor mill churning and capture the attention of recruiting fans nationwide, well, mission accomplished.
At his Tuesday press conference, the Westbury Christian forward selected Arizona over Duke and Texas. He did so on his terms. We know that he kept the choice to himself right up until the time he released his decision. His family was kept in the dark. Minutes before the announcement one sibling was banking on Texas.
So, how did Ebi do it? How did he keep his selection a secret? Simple. He had a plan in his head on what he wanted to do and never wavered. To Ebi, this was his shining moment. Not his last one, but his first truly national spotlight moment and no one was going to steal his thunder.
In my experience as a recruiting analyst, I have never seen a set of college basketball staffs more thoroughly baffled by a decision than they were by Ebi's. Two weeks ago, behind the scenes, Texas was looking really strong. Even a few of the schools in the mix would cop to thinking that. Then, just about four days ago, something happened. Arizona started gaining steam behind the scenes, according to our sources. Our source indicated that Arizona was emerging. Again baffled, but honest, he said Arizona had made up ground.
So, Ebi must have sensed that the cat (pun intended) was on the verge of getting out of the bag. His next move was his most brilliant. He created a huge grey area and let everyone wiggle around uncomfortably in it for a few days.
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski came in for a visit. If you remember anything about Duke, remember this: put Coach K in front of prospect and he's generally going to take care of business. As a result, public opinion swung towards the Blue Devils; or at least that was what Ebi would have us believe.
Our sources behind the scenes were then told late last night that it was Arizona and Texas. However, our source who spoke to Ebi was then further confused when he was told that Ebi said "then again, it could be Duke or Houston." Houston? For the last month, Ebi swore up and down to TheInsidersHoops that Houston wasn't in the mix. But, this was Ndudi Ebi's way of keeping everyone on their toes for a few more hours.
Given my position, I was able to talk to various parties around the country Tuesday morning. I can tell you with complete certainty that when Ebi stepped up for his announcement, no one in the college basketball community knew what he would do.
Credit the Wildcats. While we may or may not ever know just what Ebi was thinking, I feel comfortable in writing that Texas was a major factor and no one would have been shocked if the Longhorns nabbed him. Like I said, two weeks ago, they were looking strong. Then, the Wildcats went to work and used Darrell Green-like closing speed to nail down a commitment from one of the elite prospects in the class.
Ebi knows that the story in the Class of 2003 is LeBron James. He knows that when the book on 2003 comes out, James will dominate its pages. But, on Tuesday, Oct. 1, Ndudi Ebi penned his own chapter and made sure that while at some point James might steal the show but there's no way he's forgotten.
His place in recruiting history is secure.