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September 27, 2004

Just a Minute with Justin Young

CARDS GOING FOR FULL DECK

Louisville will make the move to the Big East next season and when they switch conferences, the Cardinals could bring two teams to play. California wing Bryan Harvey made a verbal pledge to Louisville this weekend, becoming the seventh player to commit to the school in the class of 2005.

Rick Pitino and his staff have reeled in verbal commitments from center Clarence Holloway, combo forward Jonathan Huffman, power forward Amir Johnson, point guard Andre McGee, small forward Chad Millard, combo forward Lamar Roberson, and small forward Terrence Williams. Talk about the haul of the century.

With the exception of Huffman, each player is ranked nationally on the Rivals top 150 list for the class of 2005. It should also be noted that Huffman is rated as one of the top power forwards in the nation.

Harvey is the fourth player from California to commit to the Cardinals this season and that can be traced back to the efforts of assistant coach Reggie Theus. The former NBA All-Star tapped into his West Coast connections and brought talented players at every position to the other side of the country.

Johnson is a super talent at the power forward spot. He had a sensational July, particularly at the ABCD camp where he was one of the top big men at the event. Harvey is a dead-eye shooter when he's hot. Even though he's rated as one of the top 40 players in the nation by Rivals.com, Harvey will surprise opponents with his skill level. Don't be surprised to see him make a splash right away.

Roberson could be the surprise of the class. He is a multi-talented player with a number of weapons on both sides of the floor. McGee is a point guard with a giant smile on his face. The floor general has a plethora of options to choose from when running the show. There isn't a point guard in the nation with the options around him at every position.

Also from the West Coast is Williams, an interchangeable player that can handle the ball, play the occasional point and rebound inside. Millard, Huffman and Holloway each bring their own skills to the table. Millard is a long shooter, Huffman is an athletic big man that can shoot the three and Holloway is a huge body inside.

Harvey and Roberson both played for the SoCal All-Stars on the AAU circuit, a team that Theus coached before landing at Louisville. Marcus Johnson, a 6-foot-5 athletic wing guard from Los Angeles, was also considering Louisville before picking UConn. He also played for SCA.

Who is next? Class of 2006 prospect Chase Budinger and 2007 point guard Jay Dee Luster? Don't put it past Theus.

MORE CALI PLAYERS MAKING PICKS

With Harvey's commitment, much of the national attention has gone to Louisville, and rightfully so, but it wouldn't be fair to acknowledge the success Arizona State had this weekend, too. The Sun Devils have also had success in California. Native sons Jeffrey Pendergraph, Sylvester Seay and Seketoure Henry all picked the Pac-10 program while on visits to Tempe this weekend.

This is the best news ASU head coach Rob Evans has received since landing super big man Ike Diogu. Many believed this season was Evan's proving year, even with two years left on his contract. Landing these three prospects helped silence that talk for now. While neither Pendergraph, Seay or Henry are nationally ranked by Rivals.com, each of the players bring a nice skill set to the team.

Pendergraph had a quality summer, showing that he can rebound with the best of them. Seay is a springy athlete that passes the look test. He was also an All-Star at the ABCD camp. He could very easily start from day one. Henry is a terrific catch and shoot guard that has good athleticism. He had a dazzling spring.

IT'S A ROUNDBALL WORLD AFTER ALL

Each year, there is an influx of international talent that makes it's way to several American teams. This year is no different. Some new faces have emerged while some players who have been in the United States for a couple of years are starting to become national known recruits.

Montrose Christian is widely considered one of the elite programs in the nation. The roster is generally dotted with talented exchange students and foreign players. Head coach Stu Vetter has a backcourt that he's familiar with and believes the guards have a chance to be pretty special.

K.J. Matsui, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound shooting guard is a native of Japan. Now in his third season at Montrose, Matsui is receiving attention from a number of Ivy League programs as well as a couple of Big East schools. He's a talented shooter and works well off of high screens.

Taishi Ito, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior is a steady point guard that knows how to run an offense to perfection. Like most Montrose players, Ito didn't play on the summer circuit. If he did, he'd be a national name. He's a high major talent and Vetter says Ito is a hot prospect with ACC and Big East coaches. Why? Ito rarely turns the ball over. When we watched Ito last spring, we were impressed with his poise and lead by example mentality. He has a chance to be special.

Vetter says both Matsui and Ito want to become the first Japanese players to play in Division I basketball. Expect that to happen.

Montverde Academy in Florida is another stop on the international tour. Head coach Kevin Sutton has a talented group this season, led by Cameroon native Luc Mbahamoute. The 6-foot-7 wing forward visited Virginia Tech this weekend and has a trip planned to UCLA this weekend. He's a talent but he isn't the only prospect in the school tucked away in the shadows of Orlando.

Sutton has a host of foreign players who are receiving a wide variety of looks. Seniors Stephane Bakinde is a 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward from Cameroon; Arminas Urbutis is a 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward that has mid-major looks; Giedrus Knysas is a 6-foot-8, 200 pound forward from Lithuania. He has a solid inside-out game and can knock down the three.

While the seniors are talented, the juniors have a chance to be national recruits, Sutton believes. Franck Ndongo is a 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward from Cameroon and Syzmon Lukasiak is a 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward from Poland. Sutton calls both players possible high-major talents.

Also on the roster is Luis Colon, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound center from Puerto Rico. Colon played with Art Alvarez's Miami Tropics team during the AAU season. Colon is a raw but talented prospect with room to grow into his position.

Although he's not a foreign player, it's also important to note that super athlete L.D. Williams is also at Montverde. The North Carolina native played with Boo Williams AAU over the summer and opened coaches' eyes at the Peach Jam and Super Showcase. The 6-foot-4 junior is one to watch.


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