Negedu Focused on One School - Indiana

Bloomington – If Emmanuel Negedu gets his way, he'll be playing for Indiana this fall. The 6'7", 235-pound University of Tennessee sophomore was in Bloomington over the weekend to not only visit with the Indiana coaches, but also the IU medical staff...

Bloomington – If Emmanuel Negedu gets his way, he'll be playing for Indiana this fall.

The 6'7", 235-pound University of Tennessee sophomore was in Bloomington over the weekend to not only visit with the Indiana coaches, but also the IU medical staff. Since suffering sudden cardiac arrest last September and having an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) implanted in his chest, Negedu was cleared to play by the UT medical staff and then by a prominent California cardiologist. As an added precaution, Indiana wanted to do its own evaluation before offering a scholarship.

"He'd love to play here," said Negedu's Team Indiana Elite AAU coach Mark Adams. "He has friends on the team, he has family members, he's spent a lot of time in Bloomington over the years. He'd love to play here."

Negedu originally gave the IU program strong consideration two years ago before ultimately deciding to play for Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. He played in all but one of Tennessee's games as a true freshman, averaging 1.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 7.2 minutes per game. He was expected to play a much bigger role this past season before his season came to a sudden halt.

Negedu collapsed following a workout on Sept. 28, 2009, and was revived by the UT medical staff. The ICD was inserted into his chest nine days later, and he sat out the 2009-10 season. The thought at the time was Negedu's basketball career might be over.

"Initially I think the doctors thought (his playing career would be over), and he had a very hard time thinking that," Adams said. "I think he always thought he'd play again, even when the doctors weren't sure."

The prospects of a return to the court became more realistic two months ago when the University of Tennessee medical staff put him through a series of tests and cleared him to play. As an extra precaution the UT doctors asked Negedu to go to California to get a second opinion, and that doctor reaffirmed their decision.

Despite getting medical clearance, the UT Athletic Department decided not to clear Negedu to play for Vols, ending his career with the SEC school. While Negedu could have remained in Knoxville on scholarship and completed his degree, he has instead decided that he wants to resume his playing career.

"He wants to play," Adams said. "Emmanuel said, ‘I'm playing, they've cleared me, I'm playing, there's no discussion.'"

It's a decision that is being supported by both Negedu's family back home in Nigeria as well as his U.S. guardians, Frank and Alison Quirk, who he lived with while playing at Brewster Academy. Since making it known publicly that he wanted to resume his college career numerous schools have contacted Adams to express interest, but Negedu has only one school in mind right now – Indiana.

"There have been a lot of schools calling that are interested," Adams said. "But he didn't want to go visit anyone else. He liked Indiana the first time around, and if he's cleared to play (by Indiana) then that's where he wants to play."

If Indiana does clear him to play, Negedu would likely return to Bloomington shortly after the semester ends at UT so he can enroll in summer school classes. If things don't work out at IU, Negedu will explore other avenues.

"He's going to play somewhere," Adams said. "That's what his decision is. He said, ‘I want to play (at Indiana), but if they don't clear me I'll play somewhere else.'"

Negedu would also appear to have an excellent chance to play immediately instead of being forced to sit out a year as a Division I transfer. The fact that he missed the entire 2009-10 season and that UT officials have said they'd be supportive of him gaining his eligibility immediately will help.

"He would stay at Tennessee if Tennessee would let him play," Adams said. "So he's not transferring to go play somewhere else. Tennessee seems to think he can play immediately wherever he goes, and they're fully supportive and hope he'll be able to play immediately."

If that does turn out to be at Indiana, the Hoosiers will be getting a dynamically-gifted athlete at the forward position. During testing at UT last summer Negedu recorded a 42-inch vertical jump and ran a 4.33 in the 40 yard dash – a clocking that is not only elite for a basketball player, but for an athlete of any sort.

"I was told that 40 time would have been the second fastest time in the NFL Combine that year, and that's from a 6'7", 235-pound kid not a 5'10" cornerback," Adams said.

He was the headline player on Adams' Team Indiana Elite team that dominated the AAU circuit two summers ago, and was tabbed as the 72nd best player nationally by Scout.com in the 2008 class.

"He was probably as dominant a player as there was out there that summer," Adams aid. "He's an extremely good rebounder, he blocks shots, he'd get you a basket when you most needed it.

"On top of that, he plays hard. He was a warrior. He wanted to win, he loved to win, and he played his tail off. He was a leader. You'd go into battle with him."

After a tremendous health-related scare, Negedu is now preparing to have that opportunity once again, potentially at Indiana.

"He's an extremely good athlete, a great kid, and he loves to win," Adams said. "And he thinks he's got something to prove now. He wants to get back to playing. He's fired up about it."


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