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After receiving an NCAA waiver, Lauren Ebo is 'really excited' for her Texas debut

Texas junior Lauren Ebo, left, speaks with teammate Elyssa Coleman before the Louisiana Tech game at the Erwin Center on Dec. 2. Ebo, who transferred from Penn State in April, will make her Longhorns debut on Friday night.

For years now, the No. 1 jersey at Texas has been associated with Longhorns guards.

Sug Sutton, who donned the number for the last four years, was a 5-8 point guard. She inherited that jersey from Empress Davenport, who stood 5-9 in the UT backcourt. Tamra Cobbins was 5-4.

Lauren Ebo plans on continuing that tradition on Friday night. Ignore that listing of Ebo as a 6-4 center on the roster, though. In her mind, there isn't that much difference between her and those who wore the No. 1 before her.

"I walk around like I'm a point guard," Ebo declared on Thursday.

Six games into UT's season, Ebo is set to make her burnt-orange debut. Ranked 22nd in the AP poll, Texas (4-1) will host Drake (2-3) in a game that was added to the schedule just a few days ago.

Ebo signed with Texas this spring after spending two years at Penn State. In order to play immediately, she needed a waiver approved by the NCAA. But her waiver was denied.

Following another rejection earlier this month, Texas was resigned to having Ebo redshirt. On Wednesday, however, the NCAA's Division I Council approved a blanket waiver for transfers. That night, Texas announced that Ebo had been cleared.

"I'm really excited to get out there and help the team," she said. "It has been hard standing on the sideline, but I 've enjoyed being able to push everyone in practice."

Penn State forward Lauren Ebo blocks Purdue's Ae'Rianna Harris' shot during their game in January. Ebo has transferred to Texas, where she'll provide much-needed depth in the paint.

Last season, Ebo averaged 5.3 points and 4.8 rebounds at Penn State. Now the third-tallest Longhorn, she will provide a short-handed Texas team with some much-needed depth in the paint.

UT coach Vic Schaefer said Ebo should come off the bench on Friday. Texas, though, has plans for her and will play her at times alongside Charli Collier, the 6-5 All-American candidate.

"She's going to be thrown into the fire pretty quick," Schaefer said. "She's ready. She's probably one of the more cerebral kids we've got. She understands what we're trying to do offensively, defensively. She's a tremendous communicator."

Until this week, Ebo had mostly worked out with Texas' scout team. That put her in a similar situation as sophomore guard Karisma Ortiz, who was sidelined for the 2019-20 season after her transfer from Penn State.

"I think Lauren does a great job of making sure that she's doing the same thing that I was kind of doing last year," Ortiz said earlier this season.

Ebo began getting more meaningful reps on Monday. That was partially because Texas only had a half-dozen players available following contact tracing issues that cost the Longhorns two games. 

Ebo has been able to put the scout team behind her. On Friday, she will appear in her first game in 289 days.

Before she transferred, she was already familiar with Schaefer. She had been recruited in high school by the coach when he was at Mississippi State. She was familiar with Schaefer's style of play and the work that he and assistant coach Johnnie Harris had done with post players.

That was one selling point for Ebo, who was the first player to commit to Texas following Schaefer's hire in April. Raised in the nation's capital, she had never been to the Lone Star State before. Her brother, though, was already planning a move to Austin.

"I just saw a great opportunity coming to Texas," Ebo said. "It just fell into place, honestly."