May 17, 2002

Free Hoops Preview: Ibekwe overlooked?

Which local Southland player has helped their recruiting stock the most over the past two months? That's easy to answer: None other than Carson High's 6'9 power forward Ekene Ibekwe.

Ibekwe's national recruiting prominence was solidified earlier this week when he was one of only a handful of high school juniors in the nation to receive an invitation to tryout for the Team USA 18 & under Juniors, in Colorado Springs, May 31 - June 2. This team will be coached by University of Oregon head coach Ernie Kent, and will play in the 18 & under World Championships in Venezuela in July.

Ibekwe has also accepted invitations to NIKE Camp and the NBA Camp in Virginia (June 17-23).

This great honor comes after a whirlwind spring, which saw Ibekwe participate for Team USA in the Albert Schweitzer Games in Germany, the Adidas B'Ball Classic in Houston, and the Boo Williams Invitational in Kingswood, Texas. Though many major colleges prior to the spring were already recruiting him heavily, his tremendous showing in these national showcases has catapulted him to the elite group of the Class of 2003.

After having big games against Germany and Australia in the Schweitzer Games, Ibekwe returned to the states and impressed a number of college coaches with a more physical and energetic style of play that frankly, many have been waiting to see from this very talented young man. He was an all-tournament pick inthe Adidas Classic, and was the best player on Team California in the Boo Williams tourney. In fact, most college coaches who attended the Boo Williams, felt that he was one of the Top 10players in the tourney.

Ibekwe has increased his physical strength with a rigorous weight lifting regimen. This, combined with his international experience at the Schweitzer Games and hard work, has resulted in him being able to dominate games now. Ibekwe possesses a near, 7-foot wingspan, excellent mobility for a 6'9, 16 year-old, a soft shot, improving post skills, and good foot quickness and lateral movement for a young big man.

In one week, Carson Head Coach Richard Masson and Ibekwe, met with coaches from Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Georgia, UNLV, and Utah. The University of Kentucky called, and had to re-schedule their visit, because assistant Coach Mike Sutton, who had been recruiting Ibekwe, was named head coach at another university. Other schools to recently enter the recruiting derby for him are Wake Forest and Georgetown.

Ibekwe has already been offered scholarships by NCAA Champion Maryland and USC, and has already taken an official trip to Arizona.

Maryland will trip him during football season, while North Carolina, Kansas, Georgia, Oregon, and Kentucky are close to setting up trips for him for the fall.

Ibekwe, a first team All-L.A. City section, All-South Bay and first team All-Dream team pick (Long Beach Press-Telegram), is also interested in UCLA, however he believes he must not be a high priority for them, because they did not visit him during the April contact period.

NOTE TO BRUIN COACHES: If you don't want to get beat by Ibekwe in a few years, call his coach now. Because as rapidly as this kid is improving, if you wait any longer, he'll be the next SoCal kid to go out-of-state, and beat you in some big game. Sound familiar?

Ibekwe, who carries a 3.1 GPA, is expected to lead a talented Carson High team to City section prominence this fall. The Colts return their entire starting five, which led them to the City quarterfinals this past season. This includes two of the state's top freshmen, in 6'5 Bryan Harvey and 6'4 Ray Reese, 6'2 sophomore Michael Johnson, and underrated junior guard Samuel Hill (6'0). Harvey and Reese, are already on the radar screens of most national hoops powers. Coach Richard Masson also returns six other lettermen from last year's squad...


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