Five-Star center Ernest Udeh Jr. cuts list to 10 | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / October 19.
  • Five-Star center Ernest Udeh Jr. cuts list to 10

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    By JACOB POLACHECK

    Ernest Udeh Jr., the No. 4-ranked center in the class of 2022, has cut his list to 10, he tells ZAGSBLOG.

    The 6-foot-10, 230-pound center from Dr. Phillips (FL) and the Southeast Elite AAU Program, is down to a final 10 of Kansas, Florida, Miami, Tennessee, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Baylor, UCLA, Alabama and Overtime Elite.

    When putting together his list Udeh says he was looking at how well he fits into each system, the other players he’ll be playing alongside, the program’s reputation and the communication from the coaching staff.

    “Those are some of the small things, but they’re the things that really make a difference down the line,” he said.

    Udeh broke down each school:

    Kansas: “It’s hard to ignore the success they’ve had with their bigs, especially with their play style, how they play through their bigs constantly, day in and day out. With Joel (Embiid) and Udoka (Azubuike), how they developed them into being able to go pro. I just feel like them being able to work with me as a big and me, being able to fit their system pretty well is pretty good. Doing a good job to get me to the next level, I feel like that’s one of the things that stood out to me.”

    Florida: “Since the first day they offered me, the relationship has been great. If one person from the staff was coming to watch my games, the whole staff was going to be with him. They’ve shown so much love since day one and it’s a good relationship there.”

    Miami: “Coach Bill (Courtney), he’s been talking to me since even before they offered me, just getting to know me. With coach (Jim) Larrañaga, he’s a great guy with the people he knows in the basketball world and his connections. Also, the time and emphasis he has put into the development of his players and how he can help me, obviously that stood out to me.”

    Tennessee: “They’ve recruited me very strongly, even before they extended an offer to me. I feel like that’s a genuine program, and a great relationship with my mom. In my conversations with her, she’s comfortable with them and if she’s comfortable, I’m comfortable. Even between us, the relationship is great. They’ve talked to me about development and how they play, how they play fast with guys that have my ability and they can use that.”

    Michigan: “With Juwan (Howard), they texted me before they offered me. They came to my high school summer games for the first time. I think that’s where he saw me and he’s kept tabs on me ever since and offered me. With him being a big and coming from that high-level, having that expertise and knowing exactly what to do with people at my position and how to get to the next level. With such a key program behind him, the reputation that Michigan has, it’s a good deal.”

    Georgia Tech: “One of the schools that combines the great academics with the great basketball side. I can’t name one day that they haven’t texted me, given me a call or talked to my mom or my coaches. They’re heavily, heavily interested in me. They’ve been recruiting me very hard, day in and day out since day one. It’s always been the same, never changed and they’re one of the more consistent programs with me.”

    Baylor: “When Baylor reached out to me, it was one of those things like, wow, I got the defending national champs talking to me. It was a pretty big deal at the time. I talked to coach (Scott) Drew and he explained to me how he’s watched me play and how I can fit in with any team I play with because of my individual strengths and what I do on the court. Because I just care about winning, my ability to be at my size and the athleticism I have, the way I’m able to move how I move, my development from my freshman year to this point, he’s been keeping his eye on me. He keeps it 100 with me also, giving me the criticism that I need, tells me what I need to get better. I’m very appreciative.”

    UCLA: “It’s one of the schools, like I said, that will play with me, not just having me in catch-and-finish plays, but actually having me being involved in the offense. It’s another one of those schools where I would be able to come and make an impact from day one. I had a Zoom recently with them, just talking over the basketball side of things. They broke down my film, telling me what I need to work on, what I’m great at, what I can improve on, just making me better as a person and a basketball player. I really appreciate them for that.”

    Alabama: “They have a very well known program, of course. They saw me for the first time during my Summer high school games. The sets they run, I definitely see similarities to how my team plays and what not. Coach [Nate] Oats and [Bryan] Hodgson really love my game and what I bring to the table in terms of being able to help my team win.”

    OTE: “It’s pretty early in the relationship, but you know I understand I have an opportunity to not only be a pro, but also keep my family ‘comfortable’ for now. I know that they’ll have the resources to keep my development on the rise so they are a real consideration.”

    Looking ahead, Udeh is going to sit down with his coaches and plan visits. For now he’s focusing on his upcoming high school season with Dr. Phillips.

    “I’m going to go through my basketball season with that focus in mind to become back-to-back state champs,” he said. “That’s the goal, even national champs. I’m just putting my focus on the season. When the time comes, it’s going to be what it is.

    “When it starts to settle down, I’ll probably cut my list even shorter and then be ready to make a commitment.”

    Since June, Udeh has risen from the nation’s No. 20-ranked center to the No. 20 overall prospect in the class of 2022, developing more confidence in his game and becoming more comfortable shooting the ball.

     “I’m getting in my rhythm quicker and easier and (showing off) my aggressiveness for sure,” he said. “I honestly can say my defensive side will get better, but probably not that much because I’ve always just been really good on defense.

    “Offense is really the focus right now, getting in the gym and just working on my fade aways, hook shots and just the normal things. I’m focused on being a leader when I can be and expanding my game.”

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