In what can easily be considered as a watershed moment in CIS men’s basketball, 6’9″ Eddie Ekiyor, one of the top high school recruits in his class whether rated by ESPN, 24×7, Verbals commits or several others and previously committed to NCAA Division 1 Xavier, has decided to de-commit from the Musketeers and return home to his native Ottawa to suit up for the Carleton Ravens. Ekiyor is in school, eligible immediately and presumably can suit up for the Ravens two remaining games against U.S. competition next Sunday (August 28th) and Monday August 29th against St. Thomas Aquinas, a top 5 NCAA Division II school in Sparkill, New York. Ekiyor already has a rich background playing for Canada Basketball and representing our country in international basketball events, most recently at the “Basketball without Borders” camp where he teamed with fellow Canadians Jamal Murray, first round pick of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets this past June, and touted 6’6″ Justin Jackson who has committed to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) Runnin’ Rebels in time for next season.
The addition of Ekiyor provides the Ravens with a physically imposing paint area presence that CIS fans have not likely seen possibly ever – the closest big man recruiting coup in the CIS that comes to mind is 6’9″ Eric Hammond (Scarborough Cedarbrae), who turned down numerous NCAA Division 1 scholarship offers to attend Guelph in the mid-1980’s and was a game changer in the post from Day One. Ekiyor is potentially more impactful than any big entering the CIS given the plethora of international experience. While Ekiyor has elite physical abilities and has shown strong potential as a rim protector and with parts of a complete offensive package, the ability for CIS coaches to work with their athletes on a daily basis without restriction no doubt played a role in Ekiyor turning to Carleton.
Ekiyor has a still-raw back-to-the-basket game and in general could improve immensely as a scorer. Defensively, the Ravens will have even more flexibility guarding the ball screen – it is not difficult to imagine Coach Dave Smart switching some screens in the same manner than Tyronn Lue did with Tristan Thompson during this past NBA playoff (and also Team Canada in the Philippines). While this makes the Ravens even more ridiculous in terms of the depth, talent, experience and quality, bigger picture: if Ekiyor develops his skill set to become NBA ready, the ability for CIS programs to spend as much time as required as opposed to the restrictions imposed by NCAA will have a poster child that can be levered with numerous other Canadian athletes who today see only one path to basketball prosperity: going south.