Festus Ezeli won't be a class of 2008 prospect after all. The 6-foot-11, 255-pound center from Northern California signed with Vanderbilt and will be with the SEC team as a freshman this season.
Ezeli, a Rivals150 member in the class of 2008, flirted with the idea of going to prep school in the fall but the opportunity to play at a high-major school and receive a top notch education was too hard to pass up. Ezeli's AAU coach Jason Barton said the big man found a perfect fit with the Commodores.
"It had to be a good school, education wise. It couldn't just be about basketball," Barton said. "I think it was his best choice as far as education and athletics goes. It offered both to him and that was of importance to him and his family."
Ezeli arrives in Nashville on Saturday and he may red-shirt this season for the SEC school. The big man showed off a keen awareness on the defensive end of the floor and proved himself as a strong-bodied rebounder inside the paint.
His progression as a player moved along quickly since the spring. The 17-year-old wanted a challenge in the classroom as well as on the court. Vanderbilt provided that to him, Barton said.
"He did pass through the Clearinghouse and had some substantial offers and Vanderbilt just offered it all for him," Barton said.
Ezeli joins Australian center Andrew Ogilvy, Alabama point guard Keegan Bell, Illinois native Andre Walker and Californians Darshawn McClellan and Charles Hinkle.