The Michigan Wolverines officially added another player to the class of 2006 when Ekpe Udoh faxed in his letter of intent Monday morning. The Maize and Blue was able to secure Udoh's signature thanks in large part to the hard work and persistence coach Mike Jackson. As it turns out, the first year Michigan assistant continued to recruit the Sooner State big man in spite of the youngster's prior decision to attend prep school. The continued contact kept the Wolverines fresh in Udoh's mind and caused him to take another look at his future plans.
"I began to think about Michigan a little after basketball season," recalled Udoh in a conversation with GoBlueWolverine this weekend. "Then I had started looking back and some of my notes that I wrote down on my visit. I had prayed about what I was going to do I felt like god was not going to steer me wrong. So then about two weeks ago… I believe it was on April 29 at around 3 am…. in the morning I sent Coach Mike Jackson a text message. In my text message I told him I was coming to Michigan. I didn’t get a call until the next morning and he was very excited. I spoke with coach Amaker and he said, 'Don’t be messing around. Make sure you are serious about this.' I told him I was because it was the right thing to do. He was excited also.”
One of the major factors in Udoh's sudden change of heart was academics. After taking a look at his standardized test score and realizing the type of education he could receive in Ann Arbor, he concluded that a Michigan offer was just too much to pass up.
“I received my A.C.T. score and it was a 20," Udoh said. "That is when I decide prep school was not for me. Plus my relationship with Sue Shand, the academic advisor, really made me want to come (to Michigan). On my visit she let me know how much she cared about me as a person and how important it was to get an education. That really impressed me.”
Another factor in Michigan's favor turned out to be playing time. Udoh feels he'll be able to help his new team out from day one. “I also chose Michigan because they get the ball down low to there big men," explained Udoh. "I saw a place where I could play right away. I want to come in and start. I feel if I work hard it can happen with hard work.”
Udoh's plan to make an immediate impact should not be affected by the shoulder surgery that limited him last year. By the time he reports to Ann Arbor it won't even be an issue. “My shoulder is coming along," he said. "I can do everything with it. It just has to get stronger, that’s all. As far as my game goes…that is still improving as well. I am just ready to get there at the end of June and get things started. I am really confident and comfortable with my decision."
Michigan is likely just as happy as Udoh…especially when they take into consideration the fact that he has grown from 6’8, 215lbs to 6’10 230lbs.
“Some people feel like I am taller than that, so I have definitely grown since the last time you saw me at ABCD camp," said an excited Udoh.