Zuby Ejiofor, a junior at Garland High School (Dallas, TX), has rocketed up the recruiting rankings after a strong summer showing. Largely unknown pre-pandemic, he jumped from unranked in both Rivals and 247Sports to 35th and 41st, respectively. With the growing notoriety came offers from Texas, TCU, and Virginia Tech. Since Pro Insight’s interview with Ejiofor, he has subsequently received offers from Seton Hall and Houston.
At 6’9” with a 7’0” wingspan, Ejiofor possesses a strongly built frame at 225 pounds. While American born, Ejiofor spent years of his childhood in his parents’ home country of Nigeria, before moving back to the United States in sixth grade.
With a bright smile and a mature, yet goofy personality, Ejiofor shines in his first-ever formal on-camera interview. He talks about the differences between Texas and Nigeria, what family means to him, shooting up the national rankings, leaving a legacy, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Zuby Ejiofor, from Dallas, Texas:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your family, where you’re from, and your background prior to getting to where you are today?
Zuby Ejiofor: Me and my family are from Nigeria. I was born here, but we moved to Nigeria. We came back in sixth grade. I have four other brothers. The oldest one is Emmanuel, then there’s Ugo, Chuks, and Dubem. Two of my brothers go here and play on varsity (Garland High School). Then there’s me, my mom, and my dad. Sometimes my dad goes to Nigeria and then comes back for about two months. Then it’s me, my brothers, and my mom.
PI: What does your mom do?
ZE: She’s a nurse. She works at family homes. She works 7-7 shifts each day of the week. That’s a lot. I’m really doing this for her.
PI: How does watching what your mom does motivate you?
ZE: I talk about it every night. I wouldn’t want to see my mom working that much. I’m just wanting to get to the next level and provide for my family like she did for me.
PI: What did you learn from moving around a lot growing up?
ZE: It’s a lot to take in. I never knew about basketball until I came back (to the states). It’s a lot. I started playing for fun, and then during my eighth grade year, that’s when I started taking it more seriously when I met my coach, Andy. I met him that year. They came to one of my middle school games at Wiley. He was in the crowd, and after the game, he chatted with me and said his team needed a big man. So I started taking basketball more seriously, growing, and understanding the game. I started playing for real that year, and that’s when I started improving my game.
PI: Were you always the tallest kid around? Were you ever taller than your older brothers?
ZE: Yeah, I was always the tallest one in my middle school. They (my brothers) were taller than me until I outgrew Ugo a little bit. My older brother Emmanuel is a couple inches above me.
PI: What is it like playing on a team with two of your brothers?
ZE: They’re goofy. We challenge ourselves. We play against each other and fight with each other. I’ve been waiting for this. Two years ago, my brother Ugo and I were supposed to be on varsity together, but something came up, so I played JV and he played varsity. Last year I played with him and now my younger brother is going to play along with us. I’m waiting to see what’s going on with him.
PI: How do you and your brothers challenge each other?
ZE: We talk trash. I mean, it’s funny. We talk trash on the court, but after basketball, after we get home, it’s all family. We love each other.
PI: Who is the funniest of your brothers?
ZE: They say it’s me. My mom says that. They see it’s me. I’m the most goofy in the family.
PI: Have you played any other sports growing up?
ZE: I played football in my middle school. I was pretty good until I started growing. Then I quit football to play basketball. My younger brother Chuks played soccer. He played goalie. That’s about it, though.
PI: What about in Nigeria? Did you play any sports there?
ZE: Back in Nigeria, I didn’t know much about sports. When I moved here, that’s when I started getting the feel of the game and learning about basketball, football, and all that.
PI: Have you been able to return to Nigeria since sixth grade?
ZE: I got to go back last year. We were celebrating my grandparents’ 80th anniversary. Unfortunately, my granddad died this year, so my mom and dad are going to go back for his burial.
PI: What is the biggest difference between being in Texas vs. Nigeria?
ZE: There’s a lot. My mom decided to move our whole family here. My dad decided to stay. Me and my brothers decided to move. She decided that this was a better place for us to be to understand life. She said this was the land of opportunity, so we moved here and I’ve really loved it the last few years I’ve been here, so I’m going to stay. If I go back to Nigeria, we don’t really play sports except soccer. Here is where basketball and football are. I love the game, so I’m going to stay here.
PI: For those who don’t know about your game, could you describe it a little bit? What are your greatest strengths?
ZE: I generally play the 4 and the 5. This year, I’m trying to get my handles tighter so I can handle the ball around the rim. I work really well in the paint. That’s where my strong suit is since last year. I dominate the paint. Hopefully this year, it will be in the paint and the perimeter, where I can take defenders off the dribble and score, and help the team do whatever we can to win.
PI: What about on the defensive end?
ZE: I talk a lot. I play solid defense. My coach always tells me “butt-down” and we work on slides. I really try to improve my game on defense each and every day.
PI: What are some things you can improve on?
ZE: Definitely my ball handling. There’s always room to improve in every category of the game. This year, I’ve really been focusing on my ball handling. Hopefully I can get that tighter and then I’ll be straight.
PI: What’s the most underrated part of your game?
ZE: You know, people say that big men can’t shoot. I really have been improving my shot. For the last two years, my coach and I have been hitting the gym, and we work on it every day. I really think I have improved my game on the 3-point line.
PI: What has it been like getting more attention as you have risen in the recruiting rankings?
ZE: It’s good. I’ve had a lot of haters throughout my life. To come from nowhere to 35th, that’s a really good feeling. TCU took me in and gave me an offer before I got ranked. That’s a really good feeling for me.
PI: You’ve been offered by TCU, Texas, and Virginia Tech. What other schools have you been in contact with?
ZE: I’ve been in contact with Purdue, Illinois, Kansas, Oregon, Ohio State, Kentucky, and Rice. A lot of schools.
PI: What have you learned about TCU?
ZE: They’ve shown me their game film and I see how they play offense and defense. I see how the big man doesn’t have to only work in the paint, but can work on the perimeter some times. He gets a rebound and pushes the floor and looks at the guards.
PI: What have you learned about Texas?
ZE: Texas is about the same thing. They’ve sent me their film as well. They like to push the ball up the floor and get on the floor every time. They play with intensity and I like that.
PI: What have you learned about Virginia Tech?
ZE: A lot of the same thing. They send me the same things.
PI: What will you prioritize in picking a school?
ZE: It doesn’t matter if I stay in state or not. Going out of state, I can experience life. My parents are not always going to be here to cater to me. Going out into the real world, I can experience the world, I can experience life. All the other great players have done it. I’d like to have that feeling.
PI: Do you have a dream school?
ZE: I really liked watching Kentucky and Duke over the years. North Carolina, too. All the big schools. I’ve watched them over the years and like how they play. Most of the players in the NBA come from Duke and Kentucky, so I’d like to be one of those players.
PI: Do you watch a lot of college basketball or NBA basketball?
ZE: NBA. I watch a lot of NBA. I was going for the Lakers and they won.
PI: Are you a big LeBron fan?
ZE: I am a LeBron fan. I really don’t understand why a lot of people hate him. My coach is a LeBron fan, as well. We supported the Lakers and we’re glad he came up with the win.
PI: Do you model your game after anyone in particular?
ZE: I like to model my game after Kevin Durant. I have really developed a shot over the years and once I get my handle tighter I feel like I can model my game after him.
PI: What has Coach Love, your high school coach at Garland, meant to you?
ZE: He’s like a dad to me on campus. He took care of me ever since I came in. From my freshman year all the way to now. He’s looked over me and prayed over me. He’s like a dad to me. I love him and I know he loves me too. I’m ready to go to fight with him this season.
PI: Of all the opponents you’ve played, who has been the toughest to match up with?
ZE: This season I played against Cason Wallace and Keyonte George was my teammate. Wallace played really good defense. He’s a guard and is a two-way player. He plays offense and defense. He’s about my toughest opponent.
PI: Who are the best players in Texas that you have played against?
ZE: Cason Wallace and Jordan Walsh. I’ve seen a lot of great players. They were tough.
PI: What are your short term goals?
ZE: Trying to finish the rest of my high school years and finish my senior year with us going further in the playoffs and coming up with a championship. That’s what I’m really looking forward to right now.
PI: How about long term?
ZE: My dream has always been to make it to the NBA and give back to my community, my family, and my friends as they did to me. Looking forward to making the NBA.
PI: Who would you say has influenced your life the most up to this point?
ZE: My coach, Andy and his wife. They took me in like a child. Ever since I met them, they’ve looked at me as their son and I really love them for that. They’ve provided for me, put clothes on me and are like my parents. I love them.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
ZE: Always go 110%. Coach tells me that every day. Life is not promised. Always go your hardest on the court and off the court. That’s really good advice.
PI: What do you love most about the game of basketball?
ZE: I love how you can interact with your teammates in the game you love. You can interact with your teammates doing the sport you like to do. I have really loved basketball ever since I came here. This is why I say it’s my future career.
PI: Do you have any pregame routines or rituals you like to do?
ZE: You always have to be prepared the day before. You get a good night’s sleep, you eat well, and then you come to game day ready to go. Always focused. When it comes to the game you give 110% every time.
PI: What’s your all-time greatest memory on the court?
ZE: I had this one trash-talker. I had to shut him up. I posted him and I put him on the ground. I looked at him and I just smiled.
PI: What does a normal workout look like for you?
ZE: Me and my coach, we go one-on-one, two or three days of the week. We work on ball handling, shooting, all that. We get more done just me and him personally then me and my other brothers.
PI: Would you say you rely more on your natural talent or your work ethic?
ZE: My work ethic. I work hard every day. You can hear that from my coach, Coach Andy, and my mom. I work hard, love the game, and I’m going to keep working hard.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
ZE: Caring. Dominant. Loving. Selfless.
PI: What do you like to do off the court?
ZE: I really just spend a lot of time with my family. I play a lot of video games. I play 2K and Madden. I play all that, but I really spend a lot of time with my family because I have two years before I go off to college, and I’m not going to see them as much. This year and next year, I’m really focused on spending a lot of time with my family and friends.
PI: What has been a defining moment or inspiration in your life? Why has it stuck with you and what have you learned from it?
ZE: My mom. She works really hard every day and double shifts on Friday. Seeing her work so hard, it motivates me. I’ve got to love the game and really try to make my dream as fast as possible so I can care for her like she did for me.
PI: If you woke up one day and saw $10 million in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?
ZE: I would give half of it to my family. Me and my family, we love each other. My mom works hard. My coach Andy and his wife, they’ve done more for me than I could ever imagine. Coach Love did so much for me. I’d give all that to my family and friends.
PI: What are the four phone apps you use the most?
ZE: Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Youtube.
PI: Tell us something about yourself that most people have no idea about.
ZE: My brothers might not know this, but I love them a lot. I stay with them every day. One year later, my other brother is gone, then a couple years later, I’ll be gone. Then my younger brother will be here on his own. I love my family.
PI: Describe what you imagine your life will look like 10 years from now and what will you be doing off the court?
ZE: I see myself in the NBA. I see myself growing my own family with my own kids, and living a beautiful life. I see myself spending a lot of time with my family. I’m a family guy. I just like to interact with people.
PI: At the end of the day what do you want to be remembered for?
ZE: I want to be remembered as a great guy on and off the court. Just like Kobe. A lot of people around the world knew him and I just want to leave that same legacy.
Watch the full interview with Zuby, here