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June 28, 2012Festus Ezeli's incredible five year rise from no organized basketball experience to the pinnacle of the sport, became complete on Tuesday as the Vanderbilt center was chosen with the 30th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors.
He joined guard John Jenkins as the Commodores first duo to ever be selected in the first round of an NBA Draft.
It completes a near seven year odyssey for the 6-foot-11, 255-pound standout. The Nigerian came to the United States with dreams of playing basketball at a high level but varying circumstances led to Ezeli never playing on a organized high school or junior college team.
Ezeli eventually hooked up with a few AAU summer teams, piquing the interest of colleges from all over the nation, including many elite programs. He ultimately chose Vanderbilt and after spending three years developing his game, and emerged as one of the nation's most improved players during his junior season in Nashville.
Sidelined to start his senior season due to back issues, Ezeli averaged 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and two blocks per game during his final year.
The Commodores all-time leading shot blocker, Ezeli is considered one of the top center's in the history of the program.
He also finished with a 56.2 field goal percentage, good for third all-time at the school.
Ezeli joins a Golden State franchise that has missed the playoffs over the last five years and made the playoffs just once in the last 18 years. A roster that always seems to be in flux, the Warriors feature the sharp-shooting Stephen Curry, veteran forward David Lee and wing Klay Thompson.
Ezeli was the second pick of the first round for Golden State, joining North Carolina guard Harrison Barnes, whom the Warriors selected with the 7th pick of the draft.