Prince Ibeh clearly still needs to develop and refine his game -- particularly on offense -- to become a consistently effective center who can play 25+ minutes per game, but his freshman season showed that he was further along the development curve than most expected him to be entering college, and if he can continue to progress along a normal development curve over the next two years, he may well enter his senior season as an elite collegiate center, with disruptive ability on both ends of the floor.
What The Numbers Say
Ibeh's statistical profile perfectly captures the description offered in the Overview. He was extremely raw on offense, shooting sub-40 percent at the free throw line and struggling to limit turnovers, while playing a fairly small and relatively uninvolved role on the offense. That rawness extended to the defensive end of the floor, as well, insofar as Ibeh fouled at about the same rate Dexter Pittman did as a freshman -- which is to say, enough to foul out by halftime if he played the entire time.
But the numbers also reflect Ibeh's considerable promise, as well. Had he averaged enough minutes to qualify, Ibeh's12.0% block percentage would have ranked in the Top 15 nationally, right up there with Jeff Withey, who finished his senior season as the Big 12's all-time leader in blocks, surpassing Chris Mihm. Within his limited role in the offense, Ibeh performed pretty well, finishing with a solid offensive rating of 95.3 by making nearly 60% of his field goal attempts, as he demonstrated better coordination and finishing ability than was anticipated given his reputation as an offensively-challenged player. He was terrific on the offensive glass and outstanding at drawing trips to the line, where the results were awful but the shooting form wasn't, leading me to conclude he can improve to a 60% shooter from the stripe, which at Ibeh's rate of drawing fouls would be enough to make him a valuable offensive contributor.
Nobody saw it, but Ibeh finished his season with a tremendous game in which he put it all together on both ends of the floor, playing 23 minutes against Houston in the opening round of the CBI and finishing with 12 points on 4-5 shooting (4-8 from the FT line), with 11 rebounds (7 offensive), just 1 turnover, and 5 blocks.
Ibeh wasn't involved enough as a freshman to have a meaningful lowlight, but to the extent we wanted to name one we might choose his two games against Oklahoma State: 11 minutes, 8 fouls, 0 points, and just 1 block.
Season Grade: B
Ibeh was too ineffective from the line and too foul-prone to stay on the floor or he might well have earned an A for his play this year.
The expectations will ratchet up next year, but if he starts playing more consistently and begins delivering on his enormous promise, he could very quickly become one of Texas' most valuable assets.
Ibeh will compete for a spot in the starting five next year and should see both his minutes and usage increase. If he can cut down on the fouls, protect the basketball a little bit better, and shoot a respectable percentage from the line, there's no reason he can't be a 20-minute-per-game player for Texas next year who averages around 8 points and 8 boards a game and finishes the season with triple-digit blocks.