TUCSON, Ariz. – University of Arizona interim men’s basketball coach Kevin O’Neill announced Wednesday that four student-athletes have signed National Letters-of-Intent to attend the school and play basketball. The quartet will report to the school in the fall of 2008.
Brandon Jennings, Brendon Lavender, Emmanuel Negedu and Jeff Withey each inked letters-of-intent during the first day of the November early signing period. Three of the players are ranked among the top 15 nationally at his position. The class was rated as No. 7 nationally by rivals.com.
"We’re very excited about this class," said O’Neill. "We’ve added four top-quality guys who collectively are as good as any class out there."
Jennings, a 6-foot, 170-pound guard from Lakewood, Calif., is ranked as the No. 8 overall prospect in the country and the No. 3 point guard by rivals.com. Jennings, who preps at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., averaged 17.0 points and 11.5 assists per game last season. Jennings is the No. 1 point guard prospect in the nation according to scout.com, Bob Gibbons’ All-Star Sports Top 250, Clark Francis’ Hoop Scoop and Van Coleman’s Hoop Masters.
"Brandon is an unbelievably quick point guard a great leader," said O’Neill. "He makes great decisions with the ball and plays at a tempo that matches our style of play."
Lavender, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard from Mesa, Ariz., is ranked as the No. 79 overall recruit scout.com. Lavender, who preps at Mountain View High School, averaged 11.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists per game last season, while shooting 47 percent from three-point range. He carries a 3.4 grade point average and helped Mountain View win the Arizona 5A Division I state championship last season. Lavender was named first team 2007 Best in the West by the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
"Brendon understands the team concept," said O’Neill. "He’s a great shooter who knows what it takes to win. He’s been a part of two state championship teams."
Negedu, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward from Bloomington, Ind., is ranked as the No. 11 power forward and the No. 31 overall recruit in the nation by rivals.com. Negedu, who preps at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., averaged 16.1 points per game last season. Bob Gibbons’ All-Star Sports Top 250 ranks him as the No. 11 prospect in this class.
"Emmanuel is really strong with a great work ethic," said O’Neill. "He shows great toughness and a relentless style of play."
Withey, a 6-foot-11, 240-pound center from San Diego, Calif., is ranked as the No. 39 overall recruit on Bob Gibbons’ All-Star Sports Top 250, and the No. 7 center by scout.com. Withey, who preps at Horizon High School, averaged 14.8 points and 13.0 rebounds per game last season. He helped Horizon reach the CIF Southern Regional Division IV championship game last year. Withey was named first team 2007 Best in the West by the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
"I think Jeff is one of the best true centers out there," said O’Neill. "He’s got a knack for controlling things in the middle."
The Wildcats, ranked No. 17 in both current college basketball polls, return to action on Saturday, Nov. 17 against Virginia. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. MST and can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.