Forward looking: Ebanks makes U of M last stop on his tour of colleges
By Dan Wolken
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Devin Ebanks thought he found his college basketball fit once already when he signed with Indiana University last year. But when those plans were thrown out of whack following an unexpected coaching change, the 6-8 forward from New York was given a second crack at the recruiting process.
This weekend, the University of Memphis gets the last word in that process, trying to convince Ebanks to join its already stellar 2008 recruiting class.
"I just want to see what their plan is for me, how I fit in the school academically, socially, everything," Ebanks told a group of reporters Friday afternoon at Memphis International Airport after arriving for his official visit.
Whether Ebanks likes the fit at Memphis remains to be seen. But the Tigers certainly like the prospect of his fitting into their 2008-09 lineup.
With practically the entire top 100 off the board, Ebanks is far and away the highest-ranked player who has not selected a college. Rivals.com ranks him No. 11 overall, while Scout.com pegs Ebanks as the 13th-best player in the country.
That has obviously driven a lot of interest for a commitment from Ebanks, who quickly narrowed his choices to West Virginia, Rutgers, Texas and Memphis after Indiana released him from his letter-of-intent.
West Virginia is believed to be the Tigers' primary competition, but Memphis might have a slight advantage by hosting Ebanks' last official visit.
Ebanks went to West Virginia on April 5, Texas on April 26 and Rutgers last weekend.
He said he'll likely announce his decision on May 18, a day after his graduation from St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn.
"I haven't decided who's No. 1, No. 2," Ebanks said. "We'll have to figure that out in the weeks to come."
Meet Devin Ebanks
Size: 6-8, 185 pounds
Hometown: Long Island, N.Y.
Class of 2008 rankings: Rivals.com -- No. 2 small forward, No. 11 overall; Scout.com -- No. 4 small forward, No. 13 overall
Considering: Memphis, Texas, Rutgers, West Virginia
Memphis certainly has been on a roll of late, getting commitments from point-forward Wesley Witherspoon (ranked No. 34 by Rivals) and shooting guard Tyreke Evans (ranked No. 6) in the month since its season ended with a loss to Kansas in the national championship game.
The recruiting class also includes a couple of elite frontcourt players in Angel Garcia (No. 47) and Matt Simpkins (No. 80).
Adding Ebanks, however, would certainly give Memphis a legitimate claim to the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, along with UCLA. It would also boost the Tigers' prospects of competing for a national championship next season, regardless of whether forward Robert Dozier and guard Antonio Anderson return for their senior seasons or remain in the NBA draft.
"We'd be unstoppable, like the Lakers," Ebanks said.
Though the Tigers' ceiling might not be quite that high, the Memphis coaching staff envisions Ebanks as a big-time scorer on a team that will need at least one or two to emerge. The Tigers won't return anybody who averaged more than 10 points last season.
Ebanks, who is more of a big wing rather than an inside presence, sounded Friday as though he was looking for some assurances from coach John Calipari about what his role would be at Memphis.
"I want to win. I just want a place where I can win and be able to contribute right away," Ebanks said. "I want to see what Coach Cal has for me, see his plan, see his vision. My mother will have a lot of questions, so we'll definitely see if Memphis is the right spot for me."
Reach Dan Wolken at 529-2365; read his blogs on the Tigers at thememphisedge.com.