Former No. 6 pick aiming to return to league

Euroleague center Ekpe Udoh helped lead Fenerbahce Istanbul to a league championship and now the No. 6 overall selection in the 2010 NBA draft is beginning a strong push to return to the NBA.

Ekpe Udoh, right, goes up for a block in Euroleague play. (AP)
Ekpe Udoh, right, goes up for a block in Euroleague play. (AP)

Udoh has set a deadline early in July free agency to decide the best offer from six NBA teams and two elite Euroleague clubs, Fenerbahce and CSKA Moscow. NBA teams can begin meeting with players at midnight ET on July 1.

“It’s definitely a possibility to come back to the NBA,” Udoh told The Vertical. “I can see myself fitting back today. I have lowered my weight to 240, so I’m even more mobile. I protect the rim, get out in transition and I’m able to play with any team and guard one through five.

“That was a big focal point around the NBA this past season, finishing off the pick-and-roll or hitting the open man. I can fit back in the NBA with whatever decision that I make.”

Udoh was selected by the Golden State Warriors in 2010 out of Baylor because of his defensive skills and mobility, but injuries limited his production and conditioning in his final two NBA seasons with Milwaukee and the L.A. Clippers from 2013-15. Udoh, 29, signed a one-year deal with Fenerbahce last offseason, improving his conditioning and showcasing his abilities in an increased role.

One of the best big men in the Euroleague, Udoh averaged 11.9 points and 5.8 rebounds in 27.3 minutes. He was one of college basketball’s best shot-blockers at Baylor University and set the Euroleague's single-season block record last year.

“Spending this season with Fenerbahce was critical,” Udoh said. “After the previous two years in the NBA, it was difficult to go through injuries and not receiving the chance to play my game. Fenerbahce allowed me to be aggressive, and I got to play for a great coach in [Zeljko] Obradovic. I got to play a lot of minutes and keep my body in shape.

“That was the best thing for my career, bringing back the love and understanding how hard I need to work to be in elite shape.”

In a free-agent market that will value defensive versatility, Udoh falls into a tier of big men who could find a rotational role. Now, Udoh, who left Baylor as a junior, has put himself on the clock.

“I have a decision date in mind,” Udoh said. “It was important for me to set a timeframe and prepare for the team that I join. You don’t want to keep postponing and postponing. So I plan to make a decision and not look back.”

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