C Catalin Baciu Profile
AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH BACIU AND COACH JORDAN (10:56)
It's been a while since Clemson basketball has picked up a commitment this big.
Thursday afternoon, 7-feet-1 inch tall Catalin Baciu (pronounced CUT-A-LEEN BA-CHOO), Scout.com's No. 56 player in the country, gave his verbal commitment to Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell and recruiting coordinator Shaka Smart during a press conference held at Veritas Christian Academy in Fletcher, N.C.
Baciu's head coach, John Jordan, said Friday that Clemson's recruiting efforts, namely those of Purnell and Smart, made the difference in Baciu's decision.
"In my last four years I've had 13 kids that have gone on to play college ball," Jordan said. "Clemson did the best recruiting job I've seen. They did a great job building a relationship with Catalin. You could truly tell they cared. Every kid wants to go where he's wanted."
Baciu, who will undoubtedly play center at the college level, isn't just a tall prospect who can defend and rebound. He can also score.
Averaging over 23 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks per game this past season, Baciu will give the Tigers a presence in the post that has been lacking all the way back to the days of Sharone Wright.
Jordan also said that Baciu can play a significant role in Clemson's pressure defense.
"We feel like Clemson was a perfect fit for Catalin's game," said Jordan. "His strengths are the way that he runs the floor, his stamina and the way he attacks the rim in transition. When you watch game film of Clemson, they reward their big men that run the floor. We thought that was a real plus. We've even used him at the top of our 3-2 defense because of his length, so he can definitely get out and run."
Baciu has also turned in several impressive performances against top flight competition.
"In fact he plays better against top competition," said Jordan. "Against Oak Hill this year he had 25 points and 15 rebounds. I think it was 26 and 14 against South Kent this year, who had seven players over 6-9. They just kept running players at him.
"He's a highly skilled center. He can shoot. Has a good first step off the dribble. He's got some attributes that are going to give Clemson a different look. He's not your average seven-footer."
Another aspect to Baciu's game worth noting is that he is equally strong with either hand.
"He truly is ambidextrous," said Jordan. "One of the things people don't know is that he can write with his left hand and his right hand the same."
Baciu, who just arrived in the United States eight months ago from Romania, said the one thing that separated Clemson from the rest of the pack was Clemson's coaching staff.
"I really liked the coaching staff," said Baciu. "I think it will be great to be coached by Oliver Purnell. The first time I went to Clemson was for a football game. The fans and everything were crazy. I loved it."
Baciu chose the Tigers over offers from South Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, St. Johns, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
The commitment, which is arguably the top verbal commitment received by Purnell since arriving at Clemson in 2003, gives the Tigers two players in their 2008 recruiting class.
Clemson has also received a verbal commitment from guard Cashmere Wright, the No. 22 point guard in the country according to Scout.com.
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