Healed and Ready

Hindered throughout May and June because of a knee injury, Huntley (Ill.) junior forward Amanze Ekegeze is ready for July's summer evaluation period to show colleges, like Wisconsin, that he has what it takes to compete at the BCS level.

MADISON - Having attended a football game and a basketball game at the University of Wisconsin over the last two seasons, Amanze Ekegeze is well aware of what the city and the program has to offer.

Stated that the Big Ten is one of the most competitive conferences in the country, the 6-7, 195-pound junior forward from Huntley (Ill.) High talks highly of the school's atmosphere and winning attitude. The result of that – at least in his eyes – comes from a Wisconsin coaching staff that makes him feel right at home.

"Coach Ryan is a great coach," Egekeze told Badger Nation. "I am really comfortable with where I am. I talk to coach Lamont Paris a lot when I visit the school. Coach Greg Gard has been the one in charge of my recruiting. They keep telling me how I can improve in my game, which is what I like in coaches. They want to see me getting better. My relationship with (coach Gard) is really good."

With the first of three open periods in July opening on Wednesday and running through July 15, Egekeze – currently rated a three-star prospect by Scout.com – and his Illinois Wolves AAU teammates will have multiple important opportunities to show they've improved from a spring season that left a lot on the table.

"It was a very up-and-down spring for us, starting out strong and falling off toward the end," Ekegeze said. "In our last tournament, we were down by one point in a playoff game with 1.5 seconds to go and I missed two free throws. I was pretty upset about that and really work hard over June to come back really strong."

Part of the problem for Ekegeze over the spring was developing tendinitis in his knee. Although the pain lessened as the spring schedule went on, Ekegeze was still in enough discomfort that he received a platelet rich plasma (PRP) shot, causing him to keep off his knee for two weeks.

It was an injury that cost him a trip up to Wisconsin for the school's advanced camp in June.

"I felt it I played pretty well at camp, I could have come away with an offer," said Egekeze.

Even though he was told to take it easy throughout the month of June, Egekeze found other ways around his doctor's orders to keep his game fresh, even going as far as working on ball handling while sitting in a chair.

"I was doing everything I could to try and get better," Ekegeze said.

With summer AAU stops in Milwaukee, Fort Wayne and a tournament that starts today in Chicago, the goal for Egekeze is to get back to how he was playing at the start of the spring evaluation period, a level of play that earned him his first two scholarship offers from DePaul and Toledo.

"I was really happy about it and it made me feel like I was playing really well," Ekegeze said. "I actually was playing really well to start off the spring. I played very solid, which I think helped me earn the DePaul offer."

Egekeze says most of the interest he is receiving is from the Big Ten and says the schools from the conference that could be the closest to offering are Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. He also said coaching staffs from Creighton, Indiana State, Loyola, Marquette, Notre Dame, Stanford and Wichita State will be watching him.

The appearance by the Wisconsin staff will be nothing new for Egekeze, who says the Badgers have been as diligent as anyone in terms of their recruitment and support of him.

"Wisconsin has been consistent, along with a lot of other schools," Egekeze said. "They were one of the first schools that started showing a lot of interest. They have been saying progressively better things about me. They made me feel like I was a very important part of the team in the future, so I have become very comfortable with them."

Even if Wisconsin were to extend him an offer sometime during the summer, don't expect any quick decisions from a player who feels he is just starting to show off some of the things he's capable of on the basketball court.

"I want to give other schools a chance to show me what they have, so I am not going to rush my decision," said Egekeze. "I don't even have a list of favorites yet. I am just going off the schools that have been showing interest."

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