It’s been way too long since we’ve done a Who’s That Guy, so in the interest of getting into college hoops over the next few weeks, we’re bringing this back to look at some of the best players in the country. Today: Melvin Ejim!
Who Is He? Melvin Ejim, 6-foot-6 forward for Iowa State
Where Is He From? Toronto
Stats: 19.1 points per game and 8.6 rebounds for the 17th-ranked Iowa State team, leading the Big 12 in scoring
His Game in 30 Words or Fewer: He can score from the perimeter (35.2 percent from 3) and run the court, and in the paint he’s the prototypical undersize college forward who will drive other teams crazy.
You Might Know Him From: When he had 48 points and 18 rebounds against TCU a few weeks ago, and casual hoops fans all over the country went, “Wait, who is Melvin Ejim?” Unless you follow the Big 12 closely, there’s really no reason you would know him for anything more than that 48-point night. But after watching him carve up Texas last night, I got curious and started reading about him, and wound up becoming more invested in the Iowa State Cyclones than I ever imagined possible.
Film Study: Two alley-oops from the win over Texas last night.
And if you’re so inclined, here’s a collection of every basket he made in that 48-and-18 game against TCU a few weeks ago.
And one more dunk on Texas, just for fun.
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Great Moments in Social Media History: Canada’s Godfather has spoken.
Off the Court: He’s got 3.7 GPA at Iowa State, and he’s always been a solid student. “Growing up with my siblings (four brothers and two sisters),” he told the Des Moines Register this week, “My mom was like if you’re messing up in classes, she’ll yank you from sports. We made a lot of trips to the U.S. to play games, and if we had one coming up, she’d yank you. I never got yanked.”
His goal after pro basketball is law school, but for now: “I enjoy being home by myself, hanging out with my girlfriend. We watch TV. We plays Apples [to Apples], sometimes, when a bunch of us get together.” Melvin Ejim is proudly rocking with the social life of a 30-year-old right now, and that should only make you love him more.
Instagram: “Might have found my new past time, not to bad for my first time…what you think?”
That T-shirt makes me miss college horribly and regret 60 percent of the shirts I wore in college, all at the same time.
But most important, NICE STINGRAY.
So Why Should You Know Him? Ejim turns 23 in a few weeks — pretty sure this makes him 34 years old, as far as NBA scouts are concerned — and he’ll never be as famous as that other Big 12 superstar from Toronto, but that’s what makes him more fun to watch now. A lot of the biggest names in college basketball are future NBA stars, but the guys who aren’t big names have always been the most fun to watch in college. Ejim’s in that category. (Special shout-out to Chris Porter from Auburn, the lifetime king of this category.)
For all the crazy stories we know about in college basketball, Ejim’s a reminder there are hundreds of others that are just as baffling. His Nigerian family immigrated to Canada just before he was born, and when he was 15 he got spotted in an AAU tournament, and wound up moving to Leonardtown, Maryland, to live with a host family and play high-school basketball. That lasted a year, before he bounced up to New Hampshire to finish high school. And now he’s in the middle of Iowa, getting love from Steve Nash.
As for his team … Former Pacers cult hero Fred Hoiberg has them playing fast (11th-fastest in the country per KenPom), which makes them fun to watch, and they’re 20-5 after dropping no. 19 Texas last night. They’ve got a good senior guard (DeAndre Kane), which helps anyone’s cause come tourney time, and the combination of Ejim and Georges Niang makes them tough up front against whomever they play. If you were picking an underdog team to ride with before March, Iowa State’s probably not a bad place to start.
And it all starts with Ejim, the Nigerian Canadian from New Hampshire who will probably upstage Marcus Smart or Andrew Wiggins and take the Big 12 Player of the Year back to Iowa. He won’t make you dream about what’s next in the NBA, but he’ll probably remind you why college basketball’s fun in the first place. Get on board the bandwagon while there’s still time.