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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Nation’s No. 2 point guard commits to Arizona

    Point guard Brandon Jennings committed to the Arizona basketball team on May 22, despite offers from Kentucky and Connecticut.

    Jennings, a five-star prospect ranked No. 12 by Rivals.com in the class of 2008, committed a day after an unofficial visit to Arizona.

    “”I was a little surprised of when he committed,”” said Steve Smith, Jennings’ high school head coach at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, where NBA players Carmelo Anthony and Jerry Stackhouse played. “”I thought he would wait a little while, but I’m happy for him because I know how he wanted to get it over with.””

    Jennings, a 6-foot, 170-pound player from Los Angeles, said over the weekend of the Arizona Cactus Classic that he would hold off on any commitment until July 17.

    However, he changed his mind after meeting with UA athletic director Jim Livengood and academic adviser Lisa Napoleon, and playing in pickup games with Arizona forward Chase Budinger (whom he played with on an AAU team, the Southern Cal All-Stars), as well as Damon and Salim Stoudamire, former Wildcats now playing in the NBA.

    “”I think he saw everything you have to see when you make a visit to a school,”” Smith said. “”He just wanted to move on and worry about his senior year.””

    This is Jennings’ second college commitment, after previously de-committing from USC. Smith said that it was too hard on Jennings being committed to a school with high school graduation so far away.

    Jennings was the leading scorer in the second annual Arizona Cactus Classic May 18-20, averaging 28.4 points and two assists, along with two double-doubles over eight games. Dave Telep, the national recruiting director for Scout.com, believes that his tournament play is just a taste what he will be able to do in a Wildcats jersey.

    “”If he were on the autobahn in Germany, he would be the fastest guy,”” Telep said of Jennings. “”He wants to go as fast as he possibly can, push the tempo, be creative, get in the paint and make plays. He wants to do things with a lot of speed and a lot of pace.””

    Jennings showed this to be true in the tournament, putting up a dazzling show of dunks that led to an All-Tournament team selection. He also shot many of his 3-pointers from NBA range, a feat Jennings credited to his growing strength and confidence.

    Still, he is labeled as unselfish, not only by himself, but by others around him.

    “”I would not call him a selfish player,”” Telep said. “”He played alongside (UCLA top-10 recruit) Kevin Love and Chase Budinger and all those guys with his Southern Cal team where he wasn’t the main guy.””

    Jennings, the nation’s second-ranked point guard, is expected to be an instant success at Arizona, which is often dubbed “”Point Guard U.””

    “”When you think of Arizona, you think of the great point guards to come out of there,”” Jennings said after his team, the Belmont Shore, lost 102-96 to the New York Gauchos in the championship game of the Cactus Classic Sunday, May 20.

    “”The top three point guards in the league went here – Gilbert Arenas, Mike Bibby and Jason Terry – and they like to play my style of basketball, up and down.””

    Smith said that Jennings called him after he committed and “”said something about Point Guard U.””

    “”You have to feel really comfortable as a point guard,”” Smith added, “”and I think he felt like he fit in there.””

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