Kansas has landed a true big man in the men’s basketball recruiting Class of 2022.
Ernest Udeh Jr., a 6-foot-10, 230-pound senior center from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida who has a 7-2 wingspan, on Wednesday night committed to Bill Self’s KU program.
Udeh, the No. 27-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2022 by 247sports.com, No. 29 by Rivals.com and No. 38 by ESPN.com, chose the Jayhawks over UCLA.
Earlier this week he eliminated Baylor, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Miami, Michigan and Florida from his list of schools. He also has been contacted by the Overtime Elite pro hoops league.
Udeh averaged 10.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game last season at Dr. Phillips High. He made an official campus visit to KU on Oct. 8-10.
“Next year I will be definitely taking my talents to Kansas University,” Udeh said in announcing his choice on CBS Sports HQ.
Asked what led him to choosing the Jayhawks, Udeh said: “Those guys (KU coaches) are real genuine guys. They kept it straightforward with me throughout the whole visit. (They are) family oriented. That’s something my mom likes. She’s done her best my entire life. I honestly wouldn’t be here without her. That’s my backbone. I might even say my skeleton really. Nothing is possible for me without her. Seeing how she clicked with the coaches, guys she’s never seen in her life is something I really couldn’t pass up.”
Asked to describe his game, Udeh said Wednesday: “Somebody that’s always going to get after it. Somebody that’s nasty, who cares about winning, puts team goals ahead of individual goals for sure. I’m coming in getting ready to play my role, be the best player I can be, to get better and have fun while doing it.”
He was humble in making his announcement, saying: “I’ve enjoyed it (recruiting process). Not many kids get this opportunity to be on live television to be talking about something of this magnitude it’s a real blessing.”
After his campus visit, he told The Star: “I honestly don’t have anything negative to say about it. You can tell that their fan base really loves the players.”
Udeh told Shay Wildeboor of Jayhawkslant.com: “Honestly, Kansas is just a basketball place. Of course, it’s where the game was invented, but the culture that is there because of that is great. Coach (Bill) Self is an awesome, stand-up guy, very genuine, and has a great personality.”
He continued his praise of KU to Zagsblog.com, saying: “It’s hard to ignore the success they’ve had with their bigs, especially with their play style, how they play through their bigs constantly, day in and day out. With Joel (Embiid) and Udoka (Azubuike), how they developed them into being able to go pro ... doing a good job to get me to the next level, I feel like that’s one of the things that stands out to me.”
He had an outstanding summer playing for Southeast Elite AAU.
“I’m getting in my rhythm quicker and easier and (showing) my aggressiveness for sure,” he told Zagsblog.com. “I honestly can say my defensive side will get better, but probably not that much because I’ve always just been really good on defense. Offense is really the focus right now, getting in the gym and just working on my fadeaways, hook shots and just the normal things. I’m focused on being a leader when I can be and expanding my game.”
Recruiting analyst Dan McDonald of Rivals.com believes Udeh is an outstanding prospect.
“He’s a strong, explosive athlete that both protects the rim on defense and tries to rip the rim down with dunks every time he’s in the paint on offense,” McDonald wrote. “His aggressive disposition and his willingness to work on his game and be coachable will take him a long way.”
Analyst Jerry Meyer of 247sports.com says Udeh “has a powerful and developing frame that includes a 7-2 wingspan. He runs well, has good hands and dunks anything close to the rim. Snatching and finishing lobs is one of his best assets.
“It is his rebounding and shot blocking, however, that are his best attributes. NBA player and former Indiana player Thomas Bryant comes to mind when I watch Udeh.”
Of Udeh, Travis Braham of 247sports.com wrote: “Ernest Udeh burst onto the national scene this spring and summer thanks to his big frame, long arms, athleticism and the high motor he brings on the floor each time out.”
Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers.com wrote: “The development from when I watched him in 2020 until now has been drastic and his upside is through the roof. Udeh is a dynamic two-way prospect. He is now seen as a five-star prospect in the 2022 class. He can be a physical and dominant paint beast on the offensive end and then he reciprocates it on the other end as he blocks a high amount of shots.”
Udeh is the fourth Class of 2022 player to commit to KU.
The others are: Gradey Dick, a 6-7, 195-pound forward from Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, who is ranked No. 25 by ESPN.com, No. 35 by 247sports.com and No. 37 by Rivals.com; Zuby Ejiofor, a 6-8, 215-pound senior power forward from Garland (Texas) High School, ranked No, 41 nationally by 247sports.com, No. 47 by Rivals.com and No. 77 by ESPN.com and MJ Rice, a 6-5 senior combo guard from Prolific Prep in Napa, California, who is ranked No. 20 nationally by ESPN.com, No, 23 by Rivals.com and No. 25 by 247sports.com.