A little less than a month ago, Tennessee’s men’s basketball coaching staff extended a scholarship offer to Bradley Ezewiro, a big post player from California. Ever since then, the Vols have continued recruiting the big man from Torrance, California, and they recently made his list of his six finalists in his recruitment along with LSU, USC, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Arizona State.
With official visits coming soon and an announcement on the horizon, I caught up with Ezewiro again to ask him about his finalists and the Vols’ interest in him.
So why did Ezewiro choose the six schools he did? Because he can see himself not only playing with those programs, but he can see himself being developed into an NBA player at all six schools.
“I like all the schools’ coaching staffs,” Ezewiro told me. “I can see myself going to those schools, and I can see myself going to the NBA at those schools.”
Tennessee just tied a school record when three players were selected in the 2019 NBA Draft over the summer. The Vols look destined to have more and more players make it into the NBA in the coming years as well, with two talented seniors set to graduate after this upcoming season and five-star Josiah-Jordan James likely gone in one or two years to the league, too.
Not only that, but Tennessee also has two players already committed to them who look like they have NBA futures ahead of them as well.
Five-star guard Keon Johnson and borderline five-star small forward Corey Walker are committed to the Vols in the 2020 recruiting class, and the appeal of playing with those two and the aforementioned James is strong for Ezewiro.
“They’ve got two really good wings, and they got the point guard, Josiah (James),” Ezewiro stated. “I think their class is phenomenal. I got to see Corey Walker play and got to see Keon play at the (Adidas Gauntlet), and I saw him play at the (NBPA Top 100 Camp). Those are two really good players, and it would be nice to play with some guys like that, maybe play with Josiah too if he doesn’t leave for the NBA.
“It might be nice to play with those guys. We’d wreak havoc if all of us got together.”
It’s clear Ezewiro is interested in the Vols, but how much interest is Tennessee’s staff showing him?
According to the California big man, UT has been in contact with him ever since they offered him at the end of July.
“Ever since they offered me, they’ve been really recruiting me,” Ezewiro said of Tennessee. “They’ve been sending me videos and pictures of what Tennessee was doing. They’ve been trying to get me up on an official. I really like the coaches up there. They really see a lot in me.”
Speaking of visits, the Vols will “for sure” be getting one from Ezewiro. Right now, he only has two official visits planned — one to LSU and one to USC — but Tennessee will definitely receive one before he makes his commitment announcement in October.
As for the other three schools on his list of finalists, they may not get a visit from Ezewiro before his announcement. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Arizona State could get official visits from Ezewiro, or they could miss out before his October decision, depending on when he announces and when those schools have available dates to visit.
Regardless of where he does and doesn’t go, Ezewiro plans to sign this fall.
The 6-foot-8, 257-pound Ezewiro is just the No. 219 overall prospect in the 2020 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, but the teams that are interested in him and his performance over the summer tells you all you need to know about him.
Ezewiro played second fiddle to five-star Ziaire Williams with the Oakland Soldiers during the first part of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit in the spring. 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 told me in another interview earlier this month. “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 contests 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 rose to 24.6 a game in Williams’ absence in the five Peach Invitational games, and Ezewiro 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. Since Tennessee’s offer, he’s also added offers from USC and Arizona State, two of the other schools in his list of finalists.
So what is it that intrigued coaches about his play and led to the slew of offers he received this summer?
“I feel I can really spread the floor. I’ve developed my jumper now, so I feel like I can really space out the bigger big men,” Ezewiro explained. “I’m kinda quick, so I can beat the big men off the dribble. I’m really physical, so I like to hit bodies. I like to wear down the other big men by the second quarter, and then by the third quarter I’m really going at him and making all my layups.”
Ezewiro has come a long way from holding just a small handful of offers back in the winter to now owning well over a dozen high-major offers and trying to decide between six solid programs. But he knows he still has plenty of work to do, and he’s looking forward to seeing the results of his efforts pay off.
“I probably need to work on dribbling and getting out on the wing more. I’m more like a post, but I want to get like a 15 or 17-foot jumper,” Ezewiro said. “I’ve just been trying to get in the gym as much as possible, just been trying to get as many reps, just trying to shoot as many game-like threes as I can. I’m just trying to get comfortable with my shots.
“I’ve just been trying to do everything I can to get ready.”