Now we're talking. Texas basketball is finally starting to get that momentum back. After the commitment of Connor Lammert to the Horns a few weeks back, and the commitment of Prince Ibeh yesterday, the vibe around UT hoops is starting to manifest itself a little more readily.
ESPN Basketball Recruiting moved our 2012 class up to number 2 overall, behind only Arizona, and even ran a short blurb about how we should be in national title contention by 2013. The writers there seem to be extremely high on Ibeh and absolutely love his potential—especially paired with the more refined Cameron Ridley.
Recruiting is so much about momentum it's impossible to quantify. You need a positive feel around your program. Particularly in basketball, almost all the top recruits know each other from AAU play, so they are more likely to jump on board with other kids that they like, fit with skill wise, or think will help the program win. I think Texas has recaptured that.
Bio: 6'10", 225 lbs.
High School: Naaman Forest
AAU Team: G.A. Pistons/Texas Titans
Strengths: The first thing that jumps out about Ibeh on tape is his ridiculous size and length. For once in my life, I think I'm actually low-balling a recruit's height. Usually you expect a basketball player to be an inch or two shorter than his listed height, but Ibeh looks like a legitimate 6'11" on film. His length is something to behold; guy has arms that seem to go on forever.
Which brings me to his biggest weapon: shot blocking. Many think Ibeh is the best shot blocker in his class. A couple years after having the best shot blocker in college basketball in Tristan Thompson, Rick Barnes will again have the chance to boast an elite talent in this area. Aside from having almost unheard of length, Prince is also extremely patient when blocking shots. He isn't a fly swatter, necessarily, often preferring to keep the ball in bounds and start a fast break for his team. That's not to say he doesn't mind sending one into the third row every now and then.
A true gamechanger as the anchor of the defense that allows perimeter defenders to suffocate opposing guards without fear of allowing an easy layup. Ibeh will definitely plant himself in the back of the minds of offensive players hoping to score at the rim.
Prince has a very good frame that will hold 250+ no problem, which should make him a beast as an on-ball defender on the low block.
Offensively, Ibeh is currently limited to dunking the ball off of passes from teammates (page Myck Kabongo) and on put back dunks. Thankfully, he excels at this. Good athleticism and explosion around the rim that you just haven't seen see from guys like Matt Hill, Clint Chapman, and Lexi Wangmene. He also seems to have soft hands. Thank god.
There isn't much film of it, but Ibeh should be a very solid rebounder with his size, length, and athleticism.
Weaknesses: Right now, Ibeh has no consistent offensive game to speak of. No ball handling skills, no shooting skills, and no back-to-the-basket game. His ranking is a projection of where scouts expect him to be eventually, assuming he can develop some offensive skills. As Reggieball argues, developing post skills is extremely rare in college basketball. As I further argue, it's even rarer under Barnes. There's no need to belabor the point. He needs to get better or he's a huge liability on offense, much like Balbay was.
He's also not the pinnacle of coordination, which is common for a tall and lanky prospect that has only recently emerged onto the recruiting scene.
Final Thoughts: Although it wasn't the star-studded (other than Cameron Ridley) cast many envisioned a few months ago, Barnes has done a very good job in gathering a diverse interior group that compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses. Ibeh is the diametric opposite of Connor Lammert as a big man, the only similarity being neither has a strong post game. Ridley fills this hole perfectly. It will be interesting to see how Barnes fits Lammert and Ibeh around Ridley, along with guys like Jaylen Bond and Jon Holmes.
As I alluded to earlier, Ibeh's offensive capabilities are going to be contingent upon having playmakers get him the ball. If Myck Kabongo sticks around another year, we're going to get to see a lot of very fun alley-oops and violent slams inside from Ibeh. J'Covan should be able to fill this role as well, assuming he returns for his senior season.
Finally, Prince is an AAU teammate of Julius Randle and Matt Jones, two of the best 2013 players in the country and two of UT's top targets. Randle is arguably the top player in the country as a power forward, while Jones is a sniper of a SG from deep. Ibeh's commitment can only help our cause with them, and we'll need it as they are both national recruits.