Pitt’s McGhee, Vandy’s Ezeli rare projects who are coming up big – NCAA Division I Mens Basketball – CBSSports.com
No college coach saw Gary McGhee in high school more than Matt Painter.
I’m pretty sure that’s true.
McGhee did, after all, play on the same summer team as Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore and Scott Martin, and I can’t imagine anybody watched that team more than Painter because Hummel, Moore and Martin all committed to Purdue that July. Everywhere they went, Painter went. Which means everywhere McGhee went, Painter went, too. So Painter saw McGhee at least 50 times and still never offered the in-state product a scholarship because — and these are my words, not Painter’s, and almost everybody would agree with me — the big kid just wasn’t very good.
Gary McGhee has produced 7.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for Pitt this season. “Matt and I joke about it all the time,” Jamie Dixon said.
Dixon now coaches McGhee at Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, 560 miles southwest in Nashville, Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings is coaching a fellow center from the Class of 2007 who was also omitted from all of the recruiting services’ top 100 lists, and not because the recruiting services missed. Rather, it’s because Festus Ezeli was, like McGhee, more large than promising and generally not very good.
The thing that makes Festus Ezeli and his progress so enlightening is that he is having fun while he plays. As a season ticket holder at Vandy I remember well Festus’ redshirt year and his years of waiting behind our former center, prima-donna Andrew Ogilvy. While AJ was center the talk was always about what color his hair might be from one week to the next. Festus doesn’t have those kinds of ego needs. He doesn’t have a body riddled with ‘tats’ and he doesn’t have an attitude problem.
He and Steve Tchiengang are in church every Sunday morning and they are just great all-around people.
I hope Festus has this continued success. He is such a breath of fresh air in a world which is continually dominated with hot air and repeated ‘me-isms”.
Kevin Stallings is to be commended for making this kind of long-term investment in Festus and Vanderbilt. Most people do not know this, or choose not to remember, but Kevin helped fund the team’s trip to Australia in 2009 while Ogilvy was still with the team. It appears now that his investment in Festus Ezeli will have a much bigger payoff, not just for Festus, but for Vandy basketball and the university as a whole.
I am sure Ed Martin is smiling down from heaven. He helped develop many a big man and Coach Martin is widely regarded as being the person who made Will Perdue the force he became for Vandy basketball and then in the NBA.