Before the 2007-08 season, the name of North Gwinnett boys basketball star Ebuka Anyaorah was as little known in major Division I recruiting circles as it is difficult to spell or pronounce.
The former changed dramatically, however, after the 6-foot-4 senior (whose name is pronounced E-book-ah Ahn-yor-ah) had a breakout performance at a holiday tournament.
Anyaorah became a household word among big-time college programs after that, and the first-team Daily Post all-county guard picked one of those suitors - Colorado - to give a non-binding verbal commitment to Wednesday. He will be able to sign with the Big 12 school when the late signing period commences next month.
Anyaorah chose the Buffaloes - who finished 12-20 this season under coach Jeff Bzdelik - over offers from several different schools, including Georgia Tech and Texas A&M, who the Bulldogs star said were his other two finalists.
"I liked the situation (at Colorado)," said Anyaorah, who also had offers from Georgia, Wake Forest, Michigan, Oklahoma and Auburn. "It's a chance to play right away. I visited there about two weeks ago, and they had cool people there who were very supportive. And they're bringing in a good recruiting class."
Anyaorah was mainly being courted by mid-major Division I and Division II programs until he burst upon the scene at the 2007 Powerade Basketball Festival, hosted by North.
He averaged 33.3 points for the three games, including a 43-point effort against South Carolina powerhouse Spartanburg in the semifinals, in leading the Bulldogs to a
"He'd had a decent season right before Christmas," North coach Len Garner said. "Then during the Powerade Tournament, he really came on strong. And he built on that (performance) game after game."
Anyaorah, who became North's all-time leading scorer this season, went on to finish second only to Wesleyan standout and Georgia signee Howard Thompkins in Gwinnett's scoring race with an average of 26.3 points per game and tied with Shiloh's Andre Crittendon for 10th in the county with 8.3 rebounds per game.
It also made him much more popular among coaches from power conference teams.
Tech's Paul Hewitt and Georgia's Dennis Felton were frequent visitors to watch Anyaorah.
But with both the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs expected to return key guards - Maurice Miller and Lewis Clinch for Tech and Dacula alum Billy Humphrey and Zac Swansey for Georgia - and bringing in highly touted recruits in the backcourt - with McDonald's All-American Iman Shumpert headed to Tech and Georgia signing Dustin Ware - Anyaorah felt more comfortable with Colorado.
"(Both Tech and Georgia) are really backed up at guard," Anyaorah said. "Colorado was there in the middle of the season, and the right fit is the right fit."
The timing of Anyaorah's decision caught some by surprise, including Wake Forest's coaches, who were set to come to Suwanee to visit him Wednesday.
"(The Demon Deacon coaches) were already on the plane," Garner said. "But we called them and they were able to jump off before they finished boarding.
"I knew (Anyaorah) had a good visit (at Colorado), and I just told him to follow his heart. I told him if you feel good about this, you need to go for it. I'm really proud of him."
One thing is certain. With Anyaorah headed to Colorado and his brother, Eloka, having already signed a football scholarship with Portland (Ore.) State, family and friends will have to log some serious frequent flyer miles to see the pair play.
"Hopefully, he'll have the opportunity with Colorado to come this way to maybe play Tech or Georgia later down the road," Garner said.