Even nearly four years after he was waived from the League, it’s still difficult to look past the pure raw talent and mass potential that was Ndudi Ebi.
Chosen 26th in the 2003 NBA Draft out of Westbury Christian in Houston, the slim and lanky Ebi was projected by many as next Kevin Garnett. Minnesota selected Ebi with its only first-round draft pick during a three-year span due to contract violations with Joe Smith and the League’s salary cap limit.
In high school, every collegiate powerhouse from Duke to Texas recruited Ebi. After his senior season, in which he averaged close to 23 and 12, Ebi signed a LOI with Lute Olson at Arizona. At 6-9, Ebi was a top-5 high school talent amongst a class that included Chris Paul, Luol Deng and that LeBron James guy.
The hope of Kevin McHale and the Timberwolves’ front office was that Ebi could transcend his game and slim physique—he entered the league at 200 pounds—and become a dominant force. His potential coming out of high school was something similar to that of Chris Bosh. The problem for Ebi was that Minnesota never gave him an opportunity to develop.
As with most young project-big men, Ebi needed minutes and experience to further push his skills and develop into the banger Minnesota hoped he would become. During his rookie season, coach Flip Saunders only managed to toss Ebi into 17 games; where he averaged 0.8 ppg. Ebi then only played in 2 games during his second year while averaging 13.5 points and 8 boards in garbage time. The Wolves declined to keep Ebi for any longer and parted ways with their young forward after the 2004-2005 season.
After being cut by the Timberwolves, Ebi caught on with the Mavericks’ training camp roster and participated in five preseason games before being waived.
He has yet to make a comeback into the NBA. For every James and KG that comes into the League, there is an Ebi to counteract that success.
Ebi took his game overseas and through a tour of Israel and Italy after the NBA. His last known hooping whereabouts were for club Carife Ferrara in Itlay, now a home to Luke Jackson.
For a player like Ebi, who had GM’s salivating over his ridiculous upside, there has to be a balance for success. If given adequate minutes and an opportunity to develop, Ebi might have become the star many projected he would be. Then again, he might have wasted that opportunity and become a clone of Patrick O’Bryant.
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