FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona basketball program has signed Ephraim Ekanem of Irvine Valley College and Jywrell Wilson of Cuyamaca College to National Letter-of-Intent to attend school in the fall, Head Coach Mike Adras announced Tuesday.
"Both are tremendous student-athletes who will come to NAU and earn degrees and have successful basketball careers," said Head Coach Mike Adras.
Ephraim Ekanem (pronounced EE-frum EE-cun-em), who averaged 8.3 points and 6.1 rebounds during the 2010-11 season, is a 6-7, 230-pound forward. He was an honorable mention all-Orange Empire Conference selection after starting all 31 of Irvine Valley's games and helping the Lasers go 23-8 and make the Southern California Playoff Regional Finals.
"Ephraim has the body in place," said Adras. "He is going to be a physical presence for us inside. How well he can adjust to the Division I level will determine how much playing time he gets. He works hard and epitomizes what we are as a program. He is going to bring it every day and work to get better. Hopefully he will lead us to a lot of success on the court."
Ekanem also averaged 9.8 points and 8.3 rebounds and shot 59.3 percent during conference games. He was second in the Orange Empire Conference in field goal percentage at 55.2 percent. Ekanem scored a season-high 23 points in Irvine Valley's win at Orange Coast during conference play and had 19 points in a win at Fullerton. He also grabbed a season-best 14 rebounds in an early-season win over Cuyamaca. In his career at IVC, he averaged 5.0 points and 4.1 rebounds.
Ekanem, who prepped at Ontario Christian High, will be joining former Irvine Valley teammate Durrell Norman at Northern Arizona. Ekanem averaged 11.9 points and 10.3 rebounds as a senior at Ontario Christian.
Jywrell (pronounced JA-rell) Wilson, a 6-3, 175-pound guard, averaged 18.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists at Cuyamaca College (pronounced KWEE-a-mecca) in El Cajon, Calif. He was a Pacific Coast Conference first-team selection this season. He played his freshman season at Miramar College in San Diego, Calif.
"Jywrell can play multiple guard positions for us," said Adras. "His versatility will help him find ways onto the court. He has some experience at the college level and he is older, wiser and more mature."
He originally signed with Seattle University out of The Bishops School, redshirting the 2008-09 season. He earned All-Coastal South League first-team honors as a senior and second-team accolades as a sophomore and junior. He averaged 24 points, 6.0 rebounds and six assists as a senior with a single-game high of 37 points.
They join a recruiting class that includes three high school perimeter players signed by Adras in the fall during the early signing period, including point guard James Douglas of Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif., and wings Colin Gruber of Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, Calif., and Daniel Cheek of Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif. Gruber was a Parade All-American selection, while Douglas and Cheek were both McDonald's All-America nominees in the state of California. Junior College forward Max Jacobsen out of Clackamas CC signed with the Lumberjacks last month.
2010-11 Northern Arizona Recruiting Class
Danny Cheek, G, 6-4, 180, Newport Beach, Calif. (Corona Del Mar)
James Douglas, G, 6-0, 175, Orange, Calif. (Orange Lutheran)
Ephraim Ekanem, F, 6-7, 230, Ontario, Calif., (Ontario Christian/Irvine Valley CC)
Colin Gruber, G, 6-3, 173, Santa Cruz, Calif. (Harbor)
Max Jacobsen, F, 6-8, 230, Lake Oswego, Ore. (Lake Oswego/Portland St./Clackamas CC)
Jywrell Wilson, G, 6-3, 175, La Jolla, Calif., (The Bishops School/Seattle/Miramar College/Cuyamaca College)