2007 C Michael Eric Draws Syracuse's Interest

The unofficial "B" bracket of the Boys Club Tournament is always good for a couple of surprises. Syracuse post Arinze Onuaku bullied his way past the competition out of the lesser bracket two years ago, and other players have emerged from the less-touted match-ups. This year, one of the eye-catchers was Michael Eric. The 6-foot-9 1/2, 215 pound junior center from The School at Church Farm, in Paoli, Pennsylvania, set himself apart with his play.

Eric, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, came to the United states in the summer of 2004, and settled in New Castle, Delaware. He spent his sophomore year at Caesar Rodney High School, where he played sparingly on the team. It leads one to wonder about the strength of the team at his former school, because this is a player with an immense upside. Sporting impressive length and a considerable wingspan, Eric is a hardworking post player who'll go out of his area to chase down rebounds and runs the floor with relative ease. He impressed with his energy and activity at both ends in the Boys Club Tourney, and appears to have a decent touch out to 10-12 feet.

And what makes him an especially tantalizing prospect is the fact that he's only been playing the game for two years.

"He's a great kid, a hard worker, and he wants to get an education," said Church Farm coach Marc Turner. "He knew he would have an opportunity to play here, and hopefully learn the fundamentals. He's very athletic, and very aggressive. He just has to learn how to play the game. He's just a young kid (at 17 years old)."

While the basketball aspect of his new school was appealing, it was the education that was the motivating factor in Eric's transfer. "I wanted to go to private school to get the best education I could get," said Eric. "I transferred because of the education."

While he isn't a prospect who's attracted a ton of notoriety, Eric, who played with the Delaware Sharpshooters in AAU ball last year, has drawn a healthy share of college interest already.

"You name them, they've been in our gym," said Turner. "Big East, Atlantic 10, Ivy League, ACC. Every day we have people in our gym. He's long and 6-foot-9 1/2; you've got to watch him."

He's also competent in the classroom. "You can't go to this school if you're not (a good student)," said Turner.

A gaggle of Big East programs made their way to Church Farm recently. And while the interest is consistent, the recruiting process isn't something Eric is seriously thinking about yet.

"UConn came in last week," said Eric. "Boston College, Syracuse, Rutgers, Providence (have all come in). I'm just trying to be focused at the present."

Because of Eric's relative newness to the game, his progress comes in fits and starts. "It's been real rapid," said Eric. "I've been working on my mid-range shot and ballhandling. I'm working on that right now."

Ultimately, Eric is looking to use his basketball potential to unlock the door to greater educational opportunities. "I'm trying to get the best education I can get," said Eric.

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