Junior to Watch: Ekene Ibekwe

One of the more impressive combo forwards that we saw over the summer was Ekene Ibekwe, from Carson (Calif.) High.

The 6-9 combo forward toured with the California Select AAU squad early in the spring and showcased his skills at the Boo Williams Nike Invitational. Ibekwe, along with highly regarded Bobby Jones and athletic junior Wendell White, nearly ripped the rims off in a pair of wins at Williams' annual event.

Ibekwe also showed a nice touch on his mid-range jump shot and collected blocks and rebounds with regularity. He dropped 22 points and snagged six rebounds in the first contest and scored 16 points to go along with four loud blocks in the second game of his that we observed. And don't think for a minute that the college coaches in attendance weren't taking frantic notes and calling their co-workers on their cell phones about him -- because they certainly were.

We had the chance to catch up with the forward recently at his California home. And it seems that he's got some impressive colleges on his early list of suitors.

"I'm hearing from USC, Arizona, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Kansas," he said.

When prompted about the level of interest from the aforementioned programs, Ibekwe noted that USC and Arizona were probably the most aggressive at this time.

"USC is really the only school that has been out to see me play," he added. "But I can't really say that anyone leads right now."

The slender Ibekwe stands at 6-9, but currently checks in at only 190 pounds. He probably projects as a combo-forward on the college level, due to his shooting touch and above the rim athleticism, but don't think that the bouncy prospect can't get off the floor to block some shots. And he can also score with his back to the basket.

"I think I can do a little bit of both," Ibekwe said. "I try to score in the paint but I also like to shoot it."

On the academic front -- he's no slouch either. He told us that he recently took the SAT and feels really good about it. And his GPA is an impressive 3.3.

We'll keep an eye on this interesting prospect as the year goes on. And, for the record, his name is pronounced E-Ken-A -- E-Beck-Way.

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