Amanze Ngumezi has had plenty of recruiting accolades and big-time offers as his commitment date drew closer.
Twenty-two programs came calling for the fifth-ranked prospect in the state of Georgia who plays in high school for Johnson-Savannah. But there was something unique about playing only 223 miles from his hometown in his home state.
“I feel like loyalty is a big part of why I chose Georgia,” Ngumezi said. “It’s the school that represents my home state. I’m not too far from home, but I’m far enough to feel like I’m getting my college experience. We also play the best competition, in my opinion.”
Ngumezi narrowed down his list of options and chose Georgia over six other programs — Clemson, Tennessee and UAB stood out as his other contenders from the Southeast. With the early signing period (Nov. 8-15) looming, Ngumezi insists that his recruitment is completely shut down.
But it was the work of the Bulldogs’ coaching staff, led by the efforts of assistant Jonas Hayes, who spoke with Ngumezi nearly every day and attended most of his summer AAU games.
Georgia also presented a bold pitch to the highly touted forward as head coach Mark Fox is in search of filling the soon-to-be void left by Yante Maten. The Bulldogs signed Rayshaun Hammonds and Nicolas Claxton to chip in during the upcoming season, and Ngumezi is seen next in line as potentially an immediate contributor.
“They have high expectations for me coming in as a freshman,” Ngumezi said. “Coming in, they say I have the same playing style as Maten — a stretch four type of guy who can spread the floor, playing in and out.”
Maten enters his senior campaign as one of the Bulldogs’ leading scorers in recent seasons, averaging 13.2 points per game. The addition of Ngumezi leaves Georgia with four frontcourt or wing players signed in the past two recruiting classes.
Fox has seen an uptick in his recruiting success as his 2017 group — which included a top-50 prospect in Hammonds — is ranked ninth in the conference.
Ngumezi’s thoughts echo that of the recent Bulldogs signees — Fox and his staff are successful at building relationships.
“Coach Fox and I clicked as soon as I met him,” Ngumezi said. “He’s down to earth, has a sense of humor and is easy to talk to. I feel like the program is on its way to a better season. The players seem confident, and I feel like we will make the tournament in the upcoming years.”
Georgia, however, did get some recruiting bad news recently. Shortly after landing Ngumezi after a Sept. 2 official visit, the Bulldogs landed a commitment from four-star Langston Hughes guard Landers Nolley.
Nolley took his official visit last weekend and committed shortly thereafter, but 18 hours later Nolley opted to withdraw his commitment. Ngumezi once again stands as Georgia’s lone 2018 commitment, but that doesn’t mean he won’t stop trying to get Nolley to join him.
“I will try to reach out to him and tell him the benefits of staying at home,” Ngumezi said. “He can be the hometown hero as far as representing his home state. If that doesn’t get to him, I don’t know what will. If he doesn’t want to be a Bulldog, then it is what it is.”
Still, the Bulldogs have their priorities set on another Savannah-area product, Will Richardson. Richardson, a former Liberty County guard who transferred to Oak Hill (Virginia), has heard from Georgia in a variety of ways — from former guard J.J. Frazier who is from the same area. Now, Ngumezi is next on the list to entice Richardson.
“We grew up with each other in south Georgia, and we’ve known each other since we were 10 or 12 years old,” Ngumezi said. “We watched each other blow up and get our names out, so with us being in the same area code (912), it would be cool to play in college with him.”