LOS ANGELES -- Since the day he set foot on campus at North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, Zena Edosomwan has known there would be some rather sizable shoes to fill.
The San Fernando Valley powerhouse has been billed as one the Southland's hotbeds for talented post players. Succumbing to the seemingly constant pressure of living up to those lofty expectations lingered, but remarkably enough, never materialized.
Low and behold, four years later, Edosomwan has successfully followed in the footsteps of his many predecessors. Emerging as the go-to-guy in the middle for the Wolverines is one of those things that appeared to be in the cards for the highly-touted unsigned senior forward.
“I remember when we first got a good look at Zena, he had big hands, big feet and a big frame overall. We knew right then and there that he was a project worth putting some significant time into,'' Harvard-Westlake coach Greg Hilliard said. “We have been lucky to have a long line of quality big men here and he has done a good job of carrying the torch up to this point in time.''
At 6 feet 8, 220 pounds, Edosomwan is indeed heading in the right direction for the Wolverines (10-4 overall), who have a pair of particularly difficult Mission League games in the next couple of days. Visiting West Hills Chaminade is up first Wednesday and looming thereafter is a trip Friday to Loyola Los Angeles, No. 6 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings.
His eyes are focused on the future, to be sure. Nevertheless, Edosomwan understands the importance of the history at Harvard-Westlake. The accomplishments of those came before him is well-documented. The reminders are constant, both on and off the court. One need not look any further than the multiple retired numbers on the wall of the Wolverines gym for proof.
Brothers Jarron and Jason Collins essentially put Harvard-Westlake on the map in the mid-1990s before college and life in the NBA. At the turn of the century, Alex Stepheson was the next big man to make a big name for himself with the Wolverines. Stints at the next level, with stops at North Carolina and USC along the way, followed suit. Erik Swoope and Damien Cain are the most recent individuals to prep at the school and both are playing college ball nowadays.
“There is a legacy of great players here at Harvard-Westlake and I would love to be able to carry the torch,'' Edosomwan said. “To have my name mentioned in the same sentence as some of those guys is a great honor. We are talking about some really great basketball players. It is no easy task, but I want to known as one of the best players to come through this school.''
So far, so good.
Keep this in mind though: Edosomwan had to bide his time on the bench as a freshman. Things took a turn for the better as a sophomore, glimpses of his potential were revealed. Accordingly, he delivered a breakout effort right around around this time a season ago.
Edosomwan averaged a double-double as junior with 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. He also had 20 or more points and 15 or more rebounds on three different occasions. Not surprisingly, interest from Division I college coaches and scouts picked up considerably.
“Zena is a tough matchup, he's tough to guard,'' said Russell White, who is the coach for Encino Crespi, ranked No. 5 in the ESPNLosAngeles.com poll and one of the Wolverines' biggest rivals. “He is as skilled as any big guy that they have had at Harvard-Westlake in the past. That program has had some good players too. He's up there with the best of them.''
ESPN Recruiting also thinks highly of Edosomwan and ranks him as the No. 5 prospect in the Southland. He compares favorably to La Verne Lutheran's Grant Jerrett, Orange Lutheran's Gabe York and a pair of players from Santa Ana Mater Dei, Katin Reinhardt and Xavier Johnson. On the national level, Edosomwan is the country's No. 94 recruit overall.
He has a handful of scholarship offers on the table, several from schools within the Pac-12 Conference. Cal, UCLA, USC and Washington are among the programs that have expressed varied levels of interest. Harvard and Texas are also on top of Edosomwan's wish list.
“Harvard-Westlake always seems to produce good big men and Zena falls into that category,'' said Joel Francisco, a recruiting analyst for ESPN. “His best basketball is ahead of him. He is a double-double waiting to happen right now and I think he projects to do the same kind of things at the next level. He'll be a four-year guy who can make an immediate impact somewhere.''
For now, college will have to wait a while. All signs point to Edosomwan taking his time in making a decision about his final destination, most likely sometime in April.
He has some unfinished business to take care of in the meantime. Edosomwan would like nothing more than to add his name to the list of premier post players to have hit the hardwood for Harvard-Westlake. And keeping the legacy alive and well appears to be an attainable goal.
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.