Amanze Egekeze firmly believes his best basketball is ahead of him, which, given his résumé, is saying something.
Egekeze just graduated from Belmont, where he enjoyed a productive career with the Bruins, but he is not ready to put his business degree to use just yet. The 2014 Huntley graduate has opportunities in basketball and is preparing to chase those.
“I feel pretty good about where I’m at,” Egekeze said. “I feel I haven’t peaked as a basketball player at all. I have a lot more room to grow, which is really, really good. The NBA is the ultimate goal. If you’re at this level and you’ve had the success I’ve had to this point, it’d be kind of stupid to sell yourself short.”
So Egekeze (6-foot-8, 220 pounds) is in Dallas training with development coach Fess Irvin, who also is training several other aspiring professional players. Egekeze scored 16.8 points and grabbed 6.2 rebounds a game for the 24-9 Bruins this season, although his best statistic may have been his 3-point shooting, where he hit 42.5 percent (96 of 226).
Egekeze hopes to land a tryout with an NBA team or get into the NBA’s summer league. If not, he could head to Europe. His agent, Adam Godes with Three Eye Sports Agency, has heard from teams in leagues in France, Italy and Spain.
Egekeze feels his basketball days are far from over.
“Each year in college I learned something different,” he said. “I was able to add a piece here or there to my game. I maximized what I could get out of Belmont for sure. Now, just being around these guys who have been through the process or are going through the process helps a lot.”
Tyler Brunschon, Egekeze’s teammate for one year at Huntley, works with the Dallas Mavericks with children’s basketball camps. He knew Irvin and thought Egekeze could benefit from coming to Dallas. Egekeze is staying with Brunschon for the time while he prepares for his next step.
Egekeze was the 2014 Northwest Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year and played on three Class 4A regional champions in his four varsity seasons with the Red Raiders.
At Belmont, Egekeze’s teams were 89-39 in his four seasons. The Bruins made the NCAA tournament his freshman season, then went to the NIT the next two years.
Irvin and Godes have had some contact with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies, but if an NBA-affiliated opportunity does not arise, Egekeze is ready to travel.
“Am I an NBA player now? No, but I think that the goal is reachable,” Egekeze said. “That’s what I’m working toward, approaching my work in the summer toward that. As far as immediately, I just want to be in the best situation for me.”
Egekeze is intrigued by France, where he has an offer for the Pro B League, the country’s second-best league. His parents, Gilbert and Lize Egekeze of Lake in the Hills, are natives of Nigeria, so he will attain dual citizenship later this month. The Pro B League allows for five U.S. rookie players (for the entire league), so the Nigerian citizenship will allow Egekeze to not be counted as one of those five players.
Egekeze works out every day with Jordan Mickey, a 6-8 forward with the Miami Heat who is a free agent. Egekeze works on basketball, works out and gets ready for the next step.
“There’s some good opportunities right away for me [in France], if that ends up being my route,” Egekeze said. “A lot could change in two weeks or so. I’m going in with an open mind and enjoying the process, enjoying every second of this while I’m here.”