Tennessee has a new post player on their recruiting board in the 2020 cycle, and he could be a name to watch in the coming months.
Bradley Ezewiro, a 6-foot-8, 255-pound post player from California, picked up an offer from the Vols late last week after an impressive showing in the summer circuit of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League.
Tennessee associate head coach Michael Schwartz extended the offer to Ezewiro, and according to the west coast forward, Schwartz sold him on how the Vols utilize their big men under head coach Rick Barnes.
“You know how they play out of their big men, like how they played out of Grant Williams last year and played out of Admiral Schofield?” Ezewiro told me in a recent interview. “They played to a lot of their bigs, and since they already have Corey Walker (committed) there, they already have some really good wings, and they already got a really good freshman point guard in Josiah James, so if they get me as a big, we could really be, like, the best team in the NCAA by far.”
Despite being over 2,000 miles away from Knoxville, Ezewiro said he was already fairly familiar with Tennessee because of the success the program has had recently.
“I knew a lot about Tennessee because I saw them play last year and beat big teams,” Ezewiro explained. “I watched them a lot on TV.”
Right now, Ezewiro is rated as just a three-star prospect by recruiting services, and he’s ranked outside the top-200 overall recruits in the 2020 class on the 247Sports Composite rankings. But it was his play during the EYBL this summer that started to draw attention and call into question his ranking.
Ezewiro plays for Bishop Montgomery in Torrance, California, but it was his play with the Oakland Soldiers in the EYBL that turned heads and caught the eyes of major college coaches.
“I didn’t really have the buzz around my name. A lot of people just didn’t know about me. So I had to go to workouts and build connections to prove people wrong and get on teams and stuff,” Ezewiro stated. “When I got the opportunity with the Oakland Soldiers, I made the best of it and just played hard every minute and just tried to get on the scene. Now, I’m kinda on the scene a little bit, but I’m trying to get on it a little bit more.”
Ezewiro played second fiddle to five-star Ziaire Williams with the Soldiers during the first part of the EYBL circuit. Williams, who is rated as the No.6 overall prospect in the 2020 class according to 247Sports, averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 27.4 minutes a game in 13 games in April and May for the Soldiers. But he didn’t play when the Soldiers took the court during the Peach Invitational in the EYBL in July.
That’s when Ezewiro really shined.
“I think I played pretty good. I played good in Atlanta in front of college coaches,” Ezewiro said. “I think what really set me apart was the Peach Invitational. Ziaire Williams couldn’t make it, so I took it upon myself to lead the team in scoring and lead the team in rebounds. I think that’s what really showed coaches who I was and solidified my name in the EYBL.”
In April and May, Ezewiro was averaging 8.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a game in 16.5 minutes a game in 13 games according to D1Circuit.com. But in the five games of the Peach Invitational, Ezewiro’s minutes increased, and his production jumped as well.
Ezewiro’s minutes increased to 24.6 a game in Williams’ absence in the five Peach Invitational games, and he averaged 13.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.0 block per game in his increased role. He posted two double-doubles in that five game stretch.
That’s when the offers really started pouring in.
From late June to the end of July, Ezewiro picked up eight Division I offers. Tennessee was one of the teams to offer him, as did TCU, Nevada, Virginia Tech, Oregon State, and LSU among others.
Ezewiro gives a lot of credit not only to his play, but to the efforts of the Soldiers to get his name out there and recognized.
“The Oakland Soldiers do a really good job of promoting me not just to west coast schools, but to east coast schools,” he explained. “It’s a really good program. They help me a lot by helping me get seen by a lot of college coaches.”
The plan for the California big man for now is to cut down his list of teams “soon” to around five or seven teams, and he’ll plan out his official visits based on that list. Along with the teams who have offered him recently, he also said teams like Seton Hall, Clemson, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers have been “getting on me hard now.”
Ezewiro has planned on announcing his college commitment in October for a while, and all this new attention hasn’t changed that for him yet.
“October was a set date I had, but I didn’t really know I was going to have all these offers,” Ezewiro admitted. “So I’m going to cut my list down sooner, like a little bit faster so I can get to my commitment date in October.”
The attention may be new to Ezewiro, but he’s not letting it change how he approaches his game. He may have the eye of some high-major programs now, but he’s trying to maintain that same motivation and attitude he had when he only had a handful of offers to his name.
“It’s been feeling good. I’ve been getting noticed, been getting props from NBA guys, props from pro guys who tell me to just keep going,” Ezewiro said. “I pay mind to it, but I also try to pay no mind to it, you know? I just gotta stay hungry and keep pushing.
“I gotta keep a chip on my shoulder like nobody still knows me, and I gotta prove myself every night.”