This article was reprinted with permission from Hoopville.com
Guest reporter Jed Tai of Hoopville.com covered the seventh annual Les Schwab Tournament in Portland, Oregon. Here are his player reports on athletes from tournament runner-up Westbury Christian High School from Houston, Texas....
This year's LSI once again showed off some of the top high school talent in the country. The tournament MVP, Westbury Christian forward Ndudi Ebi (right), lived up to all of the hype as one of the best players in the country, and Jefferson senior guard Thomas Gardner showed why many consider him one of the elite shooting guards of the senior class. But as talented as seniors such as Ebi and Gardner are, the strength of this year's LSI was in the number of talented underclassmen that played in the tournament. A good number of them are Division I prospects who will be highly recruited in years to come. Here is a look at the top players from tournament runner-up Westbury Christian from Houston and how they performed (stats are for tournament games only):
Ndudi Ebi, Westbury Christian, 6-10, Forward, Senior
Stats: 26.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 5.0 bpg, .488 fg, .250 3pt, .815 ft
Some feel that Ebi could be best college-bound high school prospect in the United States (since LeBron James will be in all likelihood heading to the NBA), but he is universally considered one of the top five high school players in America. Not that there were any doubts of this entering the LSI, but if anyone did, he certainly proved them wrong during the tournament. Long and lean, yet extremely athletic and skilled, Ebi pretty much did whatever he wanted to on the court in the tournament. Ebi was dominant on both sides of the floor. In fact, if he didn't score a single point in the tournament, he likely would have been an all-tourney pick just based on his defense. Using his long arms, Ebi blocked just about everything taken at him inside, and not only prevented scores but kept the ball in play for his teammates to recover. He also was a threat on D in the open floor, using his remarkable quickness to grab steals in the full court press on his way to easy transition dunks. Offensively, Ebi could not be stopped whether he chose to post up inside, break down an opponent off the dribble, or face up from the perimeter all the way out to three-point range. He couldn't be kept off either the offensive or defensive glass, and often times if he grabbed the defensive board, he was a threat to take the ball coast-to-coast to the other end for a basket. If you wanted to nitpick his game, you could argue he does a little too much dribbling, tends to settle for the fadeaway instead of taking it strong to the hoop, and loses his temper at times. And he most definitely needs to put on weight and strength on his skinny frame. But his positives stood out way more than the negatives as he was clearly the most talented player in the tournament every time he stepped foot on the court. Look for him in the McDonald's All-American game later this year and for him to be one of Dick Vitale's diaper dandies at Arizona in 2003-04.
Ugo Ihekweazu, Westbury Christian, 6-5, Forward, Senior
Stats: 5.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, .450 fg, .500 ft
Ebi's partner inside was Ihekweazu, who didn't put up big numbers during the tournament, but did show why he's considered a Division I prospect. Clearly his best asset is his body. Built like a tank, Ihekweazu has an NBA-ready frame with tremendous upper body strength and he uses that to his advantage when finishing plays inside, as his power allows him to overpower taller players with less mature bodies in the paint. Since the team doesn't seem to run many plays for him, Ihekweazu didn't get many touches on offense, but when he got the ball in position inside, he was able to convert. Unfortunately at his size at the next level, he will need to show more of a perimeter game, and although he tried some mid-range shots during the LSI, he was not able to make any and it was not clear if this was a polished skill for him. But his mature body certainly works to his advantage and because he's also a good student, schools in the Patriot and Ivy Leagues are interested in his services for next season. Westbury Christian head coach Greg Glenn said that Lehigh, Princeton, Texas-Arlington and Butler (medium) have been showing the most interest in this wing. He will sign in the spring. Note: Glenn also said that senior point guard Paul Connoly (5-9) is being recruited
by UC-Riverside, along with several Division II schools.
Jed Tai is a Senior Writer with Hoopville.com