June 26, 2003: Wolves Select Ebi and Rickert in NBA Draft



June 26, 2003 — The Timberwolves today made Ndudi Ebi (pronounced Indy EE-bee) their first selection in the 2003 NBA Draft. Ebi, a 6-9, 195-pound forward from Westbury Christian High School in Houston, Texas, was the 26th player chosen overall. In the second round, the Wolves added University of Minnesota forward Rick Rickert with the 55th overall selection.

"We're really excited about Ebi," said Kevin McHale, Wolves VP of Basketball Operations/ General Manager. "He's the guy that we thought had the highest amount of potential at 26 that was left in the draft by far. He's a world-class athlete at 6-8, 6-9. All day long we were hoping and thinking, can the kid slide to here? We just thought he had this great potential."

This spring, Ebi led Westbury Christian to its third TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) state 4A championship in his four seasons (11th overall). He averaged 22.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.4 blocks and 2.6 steals per game for the Wildcats, and earned First Team All-America honors from both USA Today and Parade Magazine before signing to attend the University of Arizona. He was named Most Valuable Player of the 2001 USA Olympic Festival and also competed this year in the McDonald's High School All-America Game and the Jordan Capital Classic.

"As we looked at it," added Head Coach Flip Saunders, "if this kid goes to college, then in a year or two he's probably a top-10, top-five pick. The thing we really liked about him in watching his workouts -- in Chicago and down in Houston -- is that good work ethic. He's not afraid to work and he's really coachable. I think it's a good situation for both him and us."

Ebi has played previously at Target Center, against Hopkins (Minn.) High School on Jan. 26, 2002 as part of the Timberwolves' Tripleheader of Hoops, an annual high school showcase. The 19-year-old was born on June 18, 1984 in London, England, and also lived in Enugu, Nigeria before moving to Houston. The son of Godwin and Elizabeth Ebi, his given name means "life."

Rickert, a 6-11, 215-pounder from Duluth, Minn., played two seasons for the Golden Gophers after a storied high school career at Duluth East. He was named to the First Team All-Big Ten squad while leading Minnesota to the NIT Final Four this spring as a sophomore, and became the first Big Ten Freshman of the Year in school history in 2001-02. He was named Mr. Basketball in Minnesota in 2001, and also played in the McDonald's High School All-America Game that year.