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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Vanderbilt C Festus Ezeli 06.18.12 at 1:27 pm ET
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As part of’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.


Postion: Center

School: Vanderbilt

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 264 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-SEC second team (coaches)

Key 2011-12 stats: 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 53.9 FG%, 23.2 minutes

What he brings: Ezeli has the appropriate height and a monster wingspan that makes him the perfect fit for center at the next level. Defensively he commands the post, using his length to contest shots, his strength to hold his own and his lateral quickness to rotate from side to side effectively. On offense he has simple post moves and is a decent finisher at the rim.

Despite having the size to play the center position in the NBA, Ezeli lacks the athleticism to have a big-time impact on a game. The 22-year-old native of Nigeria doesn’t appear to have much of an upside on offense with a high turnover rate and a poor rebounding touch. He also finds himself in foul trouble too often, lacking a game-to-game consistency.

Ezeli could be a solid player off the bench, bringing in a toughness and physical play that could set the tone in a game. His offense needs improvement, but defensively he’s ready to be effective off the bench.

Where the Celtics could get him: Ezeli is certainly within range for the Celtics as a likely late-first-round/early-second-round pick. He could help shore up a Boston bench lacking quality big men.

Notes: Ezeli was suspended for six games at the start of last season for an NCAA violation (accepting a meal and hotel room from a booster). Then he injured his knee (sprained MCL and PCL) in a preseason practice and ended up missing a total of 10 games. … Ezeli moved from Nigeria to California to live with an uncle in 2004, and it was then that he started playing basketball. He chose Vanderbilt over Boston College, UConn and Harvard.

Recent articles: Festus Ezeli interview

Sports Illustrated: ‘How did I get here?’ Festus Ezeli makes Vanderbilt whole, an SEC challenger

Video: Here’s a highlight mix of Ezeli’s senior season at Vanderbilt.

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