AMES – Melvin Ejim is choosing basketball over benjamins.
Iowa State’s newest men’s basketball commitment had his pick of Ivy League schools, places like Harvard, Brown and Columbia. Basketball powers they are not, but institutions of higher learning that give degree-holders a leg up in their field.
The 6-6, 210-pound Ejim, an aspiring doctor or biochemist, wants to make the grade on the hardwood, too, and will get that chance playing in the Big 12 Conference.
Medical school can wait.
Ejim plans on signing a letter of intent in November and will join ISU’s team for the 2010-11 season. He plays now at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., the same school that Cyclones’ star forward Craig Brackins attended.
“I wanted to play for the next four years of my life and hopefully more,” Ejim said Monday. “Iowa State has always been recruiting me the hardest and the longest.”
Cyclone coaches got a double dose of good news last weekend with the commitments of Ejim and Elgin Cook, a 6-6, 190-pound forward from Milwaukee, Wis.
Cook, who also had interest from schools like Florida State, Marquette and Colorado, is two years away from joining the team.
In Ejim, ISU gets a strong, athletic wing player who can defend both guards and forwards.
He averaged 12.3 points and 4.6 rebounds a game last season. Ball-handling will be a point of emphasis in improving his skills.
“My offensive game is something I need to work on,” Ejim said. “You have to play defense. That’s what wins games. I don’t love defense, but I’ll do it to win.”
Ejim would love Brackins to stay at ISU for his final two seasons.
The junior forward considering turning pro after last year, but decided he would wait at least one more season before entering the NBA Draft.
“I’m not expecting him to (stay),” Ejim said of Brackins. “He’s a really good player and he should do what’s best for him. It’s not up to me. It’s up to him.”
Ejim, who hails from Brampton, Ontario, also had offers from Boston College, Providence, UNLV and Butler.