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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Negedu first to commit to UA

    Emmanuel Negedu
    Emmanuel Negedu

    Emmanuel Negedu knew he wanted to play for the Arizona men’s basketball team “”a long time ago.””

    He took an important step toward making that happen yesterday by verbally committing to the Wildcats, becoming the first player in the class of 2008 to do so.

    “”I wanted to go there,”” Negedu said. “”I like it.””

    Negedu, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward ranked No. 29 by the recruiting service, visited the UA campus April 18 and chose Arizona despite offers from top schools like Ohio State, Florida, Kansas, Tennessee and Louisville, even canceling a visit from OSU head coach Thad Matta today.

    He committed soon after Negedu’s head coach at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, Jason Smith, picked him up at the airport at 11:30 Eastern yesterday. While discussing his situation in the hour-long drive back to campus, Smith told Negedu that if he had already decided “”he should most definitely commit”” so as not to waste any of the time of the other programs hot on his trail.

    Then Negedu “”called (UA head coach) Lute Olson and he was excited about it,”” Negedu said.

    Press conference called for new
    assistant coach

    The Arizona basketball program has called a press conference for 1:30 p.m. today to announce the program’s new assistant coach.
    Sources close to the team expect Kevin O’Neill to be tabbed for the position. He’s noted as a specialist in coaching defense and recruiting.
    O’Neill worked as a UA assistant under head coach Lute Olson from 1986-89 and coached the Toronto Raptors during the 2003-04 season. This season he served as a consultant for the Indiana Pacers.
    He would take the place of former UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough, who declined another position in the basketball department after 18 years at Arizona.

    Negedu, a four-star prospect, said that the Wildcats’ fast-paced style of play contributed to his decision. It’s a style he played in high school for a squad Smith said scored over 100 points 17 times in running up a 29-6 record.

    “”I love running the court,”” Negedu said. “”I want to play and run the floor. I think that will be a good fit for me.””

    Said Smith: “”The style of play really benefits Emmanuel’s strengths.””

    Those strengths include toughness, competitiveness, playing hard and physical, and athleticism that is “”just freakish,”” Smith said.

    Negedu, who earned MVP honors in leading his Indiana Elite AAU squad to the championship of the Kingwood Classic April 20-22, vowed to bring “”more energy to the team”” when he plays for the Wildcats, which should come in handy for an Arizona squad lacking that at times last season.

    He said the weather in Tucson, which is similar to the climate in his native Nigeria, also played a factor.

    UA forward Mohamed Tangara, a Mali native, talked to Negedu about the community aspect of Arizona, which was another important issue in Negedu’s decision.

    Arizona has also shown interest in Negedu the longest, which Smith cited as a factor in Negedu’s commitment. The recruitment started when UA assistant coach Josh Pastner – Negedu’s lead recruiter – called Smith on his cell phone to see if Negedu arrived safely when he first came to the U.S. in January 2005 as they drove back from the airport to the Brewster campus in Wolfeboro, N.H.

    Smith said he’s excited to have one of his players commit to a program like Arizona.

    “”I’m always happy when one of my kids goes off to play for a program as prestigious as Arizona,”” he said. “”I think it’s a great fit for Emmanuel in terms of style of play. Coach Olson and staff are first class.

    “”I’m very excited for Emmanuel.””

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