July 28, 2011

Defensive prowess makes Ibeh a name to watch

As Texas fans know, head basketball coach Rick Barnes loves defense. Well, you could say that all coaches love defense, but Barnes has an extra appreciation along with a passion for the role defense has in winning games. If you can't defend, it's tough to get on the floor for the Longhorns, which explains why Texas is high on a certain big man from the greater Dallas area. Prince Ibeh is a 6-10, 230 pound center from Garland Naaman Forest, and his developing offensive game is coupled with a defensive presence that should make him an immediate contributor at the next level. Recently, schools have turned their attention towards the 2012 big man, and are the Horns one of those in pursuit?

"Texas has been in on him hard," said Ibeh's Top Achievers AAU coach Lawrence Mann. "Right now you have Texas, Maryland, and Vanderbilt. Duke called [recently], Syracuse, Texas A&M, and Kansas are others that are after him. Duke is only one that hasn't offered yet. They want him to visit. Those are the ones that are really hot on him right now."

Since the nation's No. 101 overall prospect in the Rivals150 is from Texas the coaches in the Lone Star State have been able to build up a relationship, and get him on campus.

"He's been to Texas, St. John's, and Maryland," stated Mann. "Mark Turgeon is recruiting him heavily. He's going to back to A&M in August to meet the new coaches. As far as the process is concerned, the relationship with Turgeon and Barnes…they've been on him for a while. So, he wanted to make sure he gets the opportunity to see those schools. They're all unofficial [visits]. We wanted to get those out of the way so he can have an idea of where he wants to go before the season starts."

The ability to change shots and be an impact defender is something that Ibeh is probably the most advanced in right now. His instinctive presence, along with outstanding height and athleticism, has stood out when college coaches from across the country speak of his game.

"His strength right now…they've (coaches) never seen a young kid so talented as to the timing of the ball in blocking shots and when to do it. One coach said to me, 'I think Bill Russell had those instincts.' And I was surprised they used that comparison," Mann said with a laugh. "He can change the game just from the defensive end because he's that long. He can really run the floor. He's an athlete. He's a center but he's an athlete. He runs the floor like a wing. This is his second year on the tour where I can really start him and play him. He gets better every month. So, on the offensive end he's raw. We're working with him."

Recently, Ibeh matched up against Isaiah Austin, the nation's No. 3 overall prospect in the 2012 class, and more than held his own. According to Mann, his center dunked on Austin a couple of times and also changed his shot multiple times. From the sounds of it the 6-10 prospect has an idea of when a commitment will be made. Is Ibeh a priority for the Horns? Well, Mann seems to think so.

"He'd like to do it before the basketball high school season. That's our goal," stated Ibeh's AAU coach. "Texas is up there. They're showing him they really, really want him. That means a lot. They're saying he's a priority. Coach Ogden is recruiting him."

Last season as a junior in high school he averaged 5.2 blocks per game and also pulled down 9.3 rebounds.

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