Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Festus' Stock Rising

A very nice article on Yahoo today highlights why the interest in Festus Ezeli is rising.

Ezeli's skills, while still raw, are not far from those of former Newark high school prospect DeVon Hardin 4-5 years ago. Still just 17 years old, Ezeli has that muscular, freakish-athleticism that you simply have to see to believe. His wingspan spreads an impressive 7-foot-5 – which is slightly longer than former Cal great Leon Powe.
Ezeli is at the RBK U camp in Philadelphia this week. And he's turning heads. This next report from Rivals.
Here is a guy that will be the center of attention for a number of programs this week and the rest of the month. The 6-foot-8 Nigerian is prep school bound (maybe New England academic powerhouses like Brewster Academy or New Hampton) and he'll go there with a handful of offers. The rugged big man has a frit to his game that few have shown here at the camp already. He had nine rebounds and three blocked shots in a tight win. UCLA, Ohio State, DePaul, Cal, Oregon State, Virginia and others are involved. Mix in the fact he's a big time student with off the charts numbers on the academic side of things. Ezeli will be a name that receives plenty of ink here this week. Believe that.
Minnesota wasn't mentioned in that mix, but Tubby Smith was one of the first to notice Ezeli--which would mark the second time during Tubby's short stint here that he has been high on a big man before anyone else caught on. Ralph Sampson III is another example, and while he has some cachet to his name, he hadn't been popping up on the radar screens of big programs until recently. Tubby found Ezeli early on.

In April, Ezeli's coach told Rivals that Tubby was the first knocking on the door.
At this point I would say Minnesota just has interest although I would not call it hard. Some of the other schools have come after him looking to visit.
The various recruiting services don't have any information on where Ezeli stands with the colleges. As it appears he will attend prep school for a year to get more accustomed to U.S. academics, there might not be a rush to offer Ezeli. But the interest is certailny out there for this young man who graduated high school in Nigeria at age 14. He's described in the Yahoo piece as a "very intelligent kid" who wants to either go pre-med or major in business.

Ezeli's full name, in case you are wondering is Ifeanyichukwu Festus Ezeli (yes I had to copy and paste that). And since we are partial to intersting names here at PJS, the Ezeli sweepstakes have us paying close attention.

And while it's hard to tell how much interest Tubby Smith has in Ezeli or how much the propsect has in the U, it's a good sign, in my opinion, that Tubby was on the scene first in the recruitment of Ezeli and Sampson.