High School Sports

Victory Christian’s Ebuka Izundu is target of ‘recruiting frenzy’

Victory Christian's Ebuka Izundu passes the basketball while facing Lake Norman at the Hoodies House of Hope Hoops Classic at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte,  Dec. 30, 2014.
Victory Christian's Ebuka Izundu passes the basketball while facing Lake Norman at the Hoodies House of Hope Hoops Classic at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, Dec. 30, 2014. WWW.MICZEKPHOTO.COM

Victory Christian boys’ basketball coach Aureice McCain’s phone rings often these days.

Lately, there’s a big-time college coach on the other end. Schools are clamoring to get their hands on McCain’s best player, 6-foot-10, 210-pound senior center Ebuka Izundu.

Izundu was given an official release from his scholarship last week by the Charlotte 49ers, but it was no secret in recruiting circles that Izundu was considering his options after Charlotte and former coach Alan Major mutually parted ways last month.

Major, and particularly former 49ers assistant coach Desmond Oliver, recruited Izundu. The senior, unfamilar with Price and his staff, believed it made sense to start the recruiting process over. Izundu said it will again include the 49ers and Price, whom he hopes to know better.

It is rare for a top 100 recruit to be available this late in the spring, particularly a big man blessed with speed and shot-blocking ability. Izundu averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks at Victory Christian last season.

So McCain’s phone rings.

“(Thursday) morning, I heard from Western Kentucky, Charlotte, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Temple, Rhode Island, Tulsa and Texas Tech,” McCain said. “(Texas Tech coach) Tubby Smith wants a visit here. He loves the big fella. He saw him play in Atlanta these past two weekends (with Izundu’s Charlotte ACES travel team) and wants to know what it will take for him to commit.

“Basically, everyone is telling me why their program is better than everybody else’s and what they have to offer. I just try to help him filter through what’s reality and what is somebody being a great salesman.”

Two of the country’s top unsigned players are in North Carolina: Izundu and Kinston’s Brandon Ingram. Ingram, a 6-foot-9 McDonald’s All-American, is reportedly hosting Kentucky and Duke for in-home visits this week and plans to choose among them, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA and N.C. State before the end of the month.

Izundu said he’ll make a decision by May 15, a week before he graduates. His college list, in the order he gave them, is Tennessee, Cincinnati, Miami, Connecticut and Charlotte.

Oliver, the former 49ers assistant, has since joined the staff at Tennessee, where Rick Barnes was recently hired as head coach.

“The fun part about this is playing the sport that I love,” Izundu said. “The hard part is trying to make a decision. It’s draining me right now. It’s tough for me. Both are hard, people asking me and me trying to make a decision for my future. I understand how important this is.”

Kevin Ligon, head coach of the Charlotte ACES, says he believes Izundu can contribute quickly. Ligon once coached former Duke star Jeff Capel and former North Carolina and NBA players Jeff McInnis and Jerry Stackhouse.

He said he’s never seen a recruiting frenzy quite like this one.

“Ebuka is 6-10 with a 7-foot wingspan and he’s got a motor and he just plays so hard,” Ligon said. “He doesn’t take plays off. He’s gotten even better than he was in the fall, and even better than he was in his last high school game in the state championship.

“He’s playing at such a high level. Everybody wants in.”

Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr

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