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Keystone Recruiting

McKeesport’s Marshall progressing

By Chris Dokish


It’s no secret that in basketball, height is one of the most coveted traits for a player. The fact that extreme height and excellent athleticism often do not go together is the reason why the few that possess both traits become millionaires. McKeesport High School junior ZEKE MARSHALL is a few years away from the point where he could be called a future pro player, but the intriguing big man is starting to make people believe that if it happens, it won’t be a huge surprise.


Marshall, who according to his mother, Nicole Bozeman, is now a legit 7’0” tall and possibly still growing, has the height issue covered.


As for the athletic issue, one college assistant was heard to say after watching Marshall play, “he can run like a deer.” Those two revelations are why Marshall is now generally considered one of the top 75 prospects in the country for 2009. His burgeoning offensive game is why he may eventually be ranked even higher. 


“He is really starting to come on offensively,” says Marshall’s AAU coach, Rick Klimchock. “Recently we have played some very talented teams, including the New York Gauchos and the Florida Rams, and he averaged about 13 or 14 points a game over that time. That’s a step up for him and I think you can see that part of his game starting to come on.”


“He is starting to really get better offensively,” agrees Mrs. Bozeman. “He loves to be challenged by other really tall players and playing in these AAU tournaments is starting to bring out the best in him.”


Also bringing out the best in him, according to Mrs. Bozeman, is her son’s newfound love for the game.


“He used to play because he was just tall,” she said. “But now he is really starting to love the game and he realizes that even if he doesn’t make it into the NBA, college can lead him to his other goal.”


According to Mrs. Bozeman, that other goal is to eventually own his own software company.


Marshall’s height, 7’4” wingspan, and athleticism are all huge plusses for his future on the court. The fact that “he can run all day,” according to Klimchock, is another rarity for such a tall player.


As far as defense, Klimchock, who is no stranger to talent having coached two-sport phenom Terrelle Pryor in high school, is not shy in his enthusiasm.


“I think if you ask people around the country they will probably tell you that he is the best shot blocker in the class. He is phenomenal at it.”


One thing he must work on, however, is his weight. Marshall is extremely thin and will probably have to eventually add at least 40 pounds to his frame. It’s not like his mother isn’t trying, though.


“He has such a fast metabolism,” she said. “We just hired a nutritionist to make a game plan with the food. And I keep making him eat and work out, but he can’t get the weight on. We hope he adds 10-15 pounds in the next year.”


Marshall is a good student and has even heard from Harvard. But that’s too far, according to his mother, who always calls her son by his given name, Ezekiel.


“I do want him to stay close to home,” says Mrs. Bozeman. “And Ezekiel wants to stay close, too.” 


Close, in this case, means within a four-hour drive or so from McKeesport, according to both Klimchock and Mrs. Bozeman. Three schools that currently meet those criteria are Akron, Xavier and Pitt. All three have offered, as have Duquesne, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Others have inquired recently, including Florida, Temple, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, George Mason and Maryland. 


“He would have much more interest,” adds Klimchock,” but the word is out that he is staying close to home.”


The hometown Panthers don’t get a huge number of top prospects locally, let alone a physically talented seven-footer, and therefore have made Marshall a top priority. 


That is not lost on Marshall’s mother, who says, “Pitt has been great to us and they were the Big East champions. It’s great to have such a great program locally. But Zeke has to make his own decision. It’s his future. I ask him, ‘if something was to happen and you can’t play basketball, could you still see yourself fitting in at the school?’”


The decision process will begin soon, however; perhaps as early as this weekend according to Mrs. Bozeman. 


“Ezekiel has a rare weekend off,” she said, “and we will have a brainstorming session with his AAU coach and his high school coach. The whole situation has been a bit overwhelming at times and we are glad that his hard work and achievements have been recognized, but hopefully by early June we will have a much better idea of where he is going.”
May 06 2008 by Tony DeFazio