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February 28, 2013

Cats Confidential: Etop Udo-Ema

The founder of Compton Magic, Etop Udo-Ema, not only started one of the premier AAU organizations in the nation, but also over a few decades has built a family.

The start of Compton Magic was solely based off of the competitiveness and care of Udo-Ema's players at Compton High School, where he was an assistant coach alongside current Long Beach State assistant Rod Palmer. Other schools and programs wanted his players, and he wasn't going to let that happen.

So, the tradition of Compton Magic began in the mid-'90s.

It started from the ground up. Udo-Ema said hasn't ever asked for money to build this program up, nor has he ever received any type of salary. Giving kids an outlet to do what they love is the biggest reward.

Soon enough, the Compton Magic gained national attention with the talent it showcased leading to an affiliation with Adidas. The organization is a 501C Non Profit Corporation.

The program is no longer just in Compton; it now includes teams in Louisville, Memphis, Oklahoma, and Arizona.

Regardless of the expansion, Compton Magic alumni seem to have a trend going by staying on the West Coast.

Compton Magic has produced many Pac-12 stars such as Jahii Carson (Arizona State), Allen Crabbe (California), Roberto Nelson (Oregon State), Askia Booker (Colorado), and Wildcats including Jamelle Horne, Jerryd Bayless, and most recently Gabe York.

When GOAZCATS.com had a chance to catch up with Udo-Ema, York was a big topic of the conversation.

The relationship between York and Udo-Ema can be described as father-son. Not only was York with Udo-Ema during games and practices, but he also spent entire summers with him, staying at his house for two or three weeks at a time.

Along with York's mother, Udo-Ema played a big part in York's recruitment. He helped the Arizona freshman weigh out the pros and cons for each school.

They met when York was in eighth grade. At that time the UA freshman was only playing basketball because he loved it, not because he believed he could get somewhere doing it.

Udo-Ema gave York that extra push to pursue his passion in a competitive way. He taught York to not care and play hard no matter who the opponent was.

For Udo-Ema, basketball is important, but so are relationships.

Evyn MurrayEvyn Murray
GOAZCATS.com Video Reporter

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