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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Forward with ‘freakish athleticism’ to visit UA

    courtesy of rivals.comEmmanuel Negedu
    courtesy of
    Emmanuel Negedu

    If the Arizona men’s basketball team hopes to land four-star power forward prospect Emmanuel Negedu, much of that rests with how comfortable he feels in the UA community.

    Negedu will get his first taste of it today and tomorrow when he travels across the country from New Hampshire for an unofficial visit to Arizona’s campus.

    “”I need to go and see it,”” Negedu said in a phone interview. “”If I’m going to go there, I want to know everything and see what kind of community they have apart from basketball.””

    Negedu, a native of Nigeria added that checking out the international community will be important to him.

    “”Brochures and communicating on the phone and Internet can only tell you so much,”” said Jason Smith, Negedu’s high school head coach, who will accompany him on the trip.

    Although Negedu, a junior, would not be available for another season even if he signs – a decision that Smith said Negedu has set no timetable for – he could bring some of the toughness Arizona players spoke of lacking at the end of the season.

    “”Basketball is all about winning, so I do anything that it takes to win a game,”” Negedu said. “”All I do is I want to win a game when I’m out on the court. I always want to be the No. 1. I give my 100 percent when I play the game of basketball.””

    Added Smith: “”He’s just a warrior in the true sense of the word. He plays extremely hard every possession.””

    The 6-foot-7, 230-pound prospect, ranked No. 29 by the recruiting service, also brings “”freakish athleticism”” and an over-40-inch vertical, Smith said.

    Arizona has an advantage in signing Negedu, Smith said, because the Wildcats have been recruiting him the longest. The program immediately contacted Negedu when he arrived in the United States in January 2005 and has continued pursuing him ever since.

    The Wildcats’ up-tempo system could also play a factor, as Negedu’s high school team played that way. That squad scored more than 100 points 17 times on its way to a 29-6 record, Smith said.

    “”I like that style of play,”” Negedu said. “”I think they fit my style of play because they run the floor. I like running down the floor, I just want to run. That’s what I do right now.

    “”I need to go and see (Arizona).””

    Five-star forward, in-state guard enjoy visits

    Although Arizona still has not signed anyone for its 2008 recruiting class, the Wildcats made headway over the weekend by hosting five-star power forward Drew Gordon and three-star shooting guard Brendon Lavender on campus for unofficial visits.

    The recruits observed practice and played in a pickup game with UA players on top of seeing the basketball facilities with the coaching staff.

    “”It was good,”” Gordon said. “”I liked the school, I liked the campus, I liked the coaches.””

    Still, both players said they want to take some time before making a commitment. Gordon plans to wait “”a couple months,”” and Lavender expects to make his decision “”probably around July.””

    Gordon, ranked No. 16 by, put Arizona in his top five. The San Jose, Calif., recruit has taken unofficial visits to Duke, North Carolina, UCLA and Washington as well.

    Lavender, who ranks No. 101 on the Rivals list, said, “”U of A’s up there.”” Besides getting an offer from the Wildcats before his visit, he also has offers from Kansas and California in his pocket.

    Gordon, an athletic big man at 6-foot-8, said he would “”definitely”” be able to contribute immediately as a back-to-the-basket player, especially with Arizona playing the up-tempo style he prefers.

    “”I’m an athletic person. I like to run,”” he said. “”It definitely fits my personality and style of play.””

    Besides looking for a competitive basketball program, Gordon mentioned wanting to attend a school with a good academic background and play for a team that meshes on and off the court.

    For Lavender, getting an offer from the Wildcats was “”a dream come true.””

    “”It was what I’ve been waiting for, for sure,”” he said.

    “”At first I always thought the competition was way too hard, and I never thought I’d be close, but it’s crazy, now everything is kind of working out,”” he added. “”It’s just a crazy experience.””

    Not only does Lavender hail from the state of Arizona, he also plays for three-time defending 5A state champion Mountain View High School, the squad that has beaten UA signee Jerryd Bayless’ St. Mary’s High School team twice in three years.

    Lavender, who defended Bayless in this year’s championship game and has played on two of the state champion squads, said the UA coaching staff has been watching him since they started recruiting Bayless.

    Although Lavender said he will still make the Wildcats wait until the summer, if he signs he said he could “”see myself fitting into the program really well.””

    “”I could tell when I visited, I felt like I’d been playing with them for a while,”” he said. “”So if I sign, it’s really good.””

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