Udoh Says Leaving was his Choice

GBW broke the news yesterday that Ekpe Udoh had been granted his release from Michigan and would be taking 5.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game to another university. In one of his parting comments he stated, "I just feel I need to explore other options right now." GoBlueWolverine attempted to find out why in a conversation with the now departed Wolverine last night.

Yesterday morning Ekpe Udoh received the call he had been waiting on for weeks. After much deliberation he had determined that it was time for him to leave Ann Arbor for good. The voice on the other end of the phone would let him know that his wish had been granted.

“(Michigan Sports Information Director) Tom Wywrot called and let me know about the release around 5 o’clock,” Udoh told GoBlueWolverine last night. “It was a mutual agreement for both of us to move on.”

It wasn’t the first time in Udoh’s Michigan career that he contemplated transferring. He gave it some thought during his freshman campaign in Ann Arbor, and more serious consideration when Tommy Amaker was fired and Mike Jackson had left the staff for a job at Illinois State.

“I am not sure what I want to do,” Udoh said at the time. “I just want to meet with the new coach and see what his plans are.”

Udoh seemed especially concerned about the style that would be implemented by the coach coming in. As is the case with most kids, he was not sure how he would fit in. After a year under the tutelage of John Beilein Udoh apparently felt the fit was not good despite his obvious improvement and increased involvement in the second half of the year.

“It was not the best situation for me to take me to where I want to be,” Udoh explained.

Where he wants to be is the NBA. Many question how Udoh came to conclusion that he couldn’t reach that goal under Beilein, especially considering his aforementioned improvement last year. That has spawned further questions about whether other parties were wielding undue influence. Udoh, however, dismissed the notion.

“I came into this world by myself and I will leave by myself,” he stated. “I make my own decisions in my life. If you don’t know that by now then you don’t know me.”

About the only person Udoh will acknowledge having had influence is his mother. It was a tough decision, and because of that he said he leaned on the person he trusts the most.

“Me and my mom prayed and talked it over a lot,” said Udoh. “We came to a decision that was best for me.”

Udoh will be sorely missed at Crisler Arena in the coming season, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He was Michigan’s top defender in the post and clearly one of the better defenders in the Big Ten. But Maize & Blue fans can rest assured that Beilein & company are already hot on the trail of a future replacement and will continue to move toward rebuilding Michigan basketball. As for Udoh, where goes from here is still in question. Based on the early returns, though, he shouldn’t have a shortage of good options.

Within his home state of Oklahoma, it appears the two Big 12 clubs are possible destinations. Oklahoma headman Jeff Capel has shown an interest already and Udoh will be visiting the campus in Norman today.

Oklahoma State with new head coach Travis Ford is also a candidate. Udoh‘s best friend, Obi Muonelo, plays for the Cowboys. Back in February of 2007 he created some controversy about Udoh’s future when he was asked on a radio station in Stillwater, Oklahoma which player he would like to play with most. Muonelo mentioned his good friend Ekpe Udoh. At that time Udoh squashed all rumors that he was leaving Michigan. In just a little over a year later his wish has a chance of coming true.

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