Progress on Cullen Blvd.

Here's a sample of the Cougar information available to you as a member of our <B>CoogFans Club</B>. Steve Kutka gives us the straight story of Coach McCallum's Top 20 Recruiting Class signed today.

November 13th marked the beginning of the Fall Signing period for men's basketball and The University of Houston has assembled a Top 20 Recruiting Class. Coach Ray McCallum along with his staff of John Fitzpatrick, Brian Hecker and Melvin Haralson announced today that the Cougars have inked the NCAA limit of 5 signees. This collection of four High School students and one Junior College sophomore (who originally signed with the Cougars out of Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, TX) will enroll on Cullen Blvd. in the Fall of 2003.

The five man class of Lanny Smith, 6'3" point guard, Parker Pinkalla, 6'4" shooting guard, Andrew Francis, 6'8" small forward, Darrius Brannon, 6'9" forward and Elijah Miller, 6'10" center, will give the U of H it's own version of the "Fab Five". This group represents one player at each of the five positions and by coming in together they have vowed to do something special. This talented collection of young men has been ranked as a top twenty recruiting class by two recruiting publications, both the HOOP Scoop written by Clark Francis and Van Coleman's Future Stars have the respected class ranked within the Top 20 incoming groups of the 2003 class.

McCallum is very proud of this class as they bring a tremendous amount of talent, both individually and collectively to the basketball program. Another positive sign for the Coogs is that all five signees hail from the greater Houston area. Since arriving on campus 2 _ years ago Ray McCallum has repeatedly said that the program would give local talent the first opportunity and that he was very committed to the local players. This talented collection appears to have reestablished the Cougars as a recruiting force in the city of Houston.

Signing all five young men this Fall is a very significant step in Coach McCallum's design on rebuilding the once proud program. The NCAA has again changed the recruiting landscape. Two years ago, the governing body of college athletics imposed a 5/8 rule that limited new scholarship athletes to no more that 5 in one year and no more that 8 over a two year period.

The latest recruiting rule change is designed to encourage high school coaches and professional educators to be more involved in a recruiting process that was beginning to be influenced more and more, by big business shoe companies and summer coaches. The NCAA has permitted Division One Universities a more active role in recruiting high school juniors. The recent legislation allows underclassmen to accept an expense paid visit to a College Campus after January 1 of their junior year in high school. This is a change from the present rules which do not allow an expense paid visit until after the beginning of a prospects senior year in high school. Completing of the 2003 recruiting class this Fall, will allow the Cougars an opportunity to battle the more established teams within C-USA and nationally for the quality student-athletes Coach McCallum desires to bring over to the Cullen Blvd. campus.

Coach Ray McCallum is building a program at the University of Houston. Steady progress has marked the first three years of McCallum's time in the 3rd ward and this latest recruiting news is just another step in the right direction.

Lanny Smith
6'3" Point Guard

Hightower HS
Head Coach: Greg Wise
Summer Team: Houston Superstars
Head Coach: John Eurey

2001-2002 H.S. Stats
15 PPG.
5 RPG.
8 Assists/game

Parker Pinkalla
6'4" Shooting Guard

Strake Jesuit HS (30-6 in 2001-02)
Head Coach Chuck Kenny
Summer Team: Fort Worth Lions
Head Coach: Mike Hatch

2001-2002 H.S. Stats
16 PPG
7 Reb/game
3.8 Assists/game
49% from 3 pt

Andrew Francis
6'8" Small Forward

Alief Elsik HS
Head Coach: Jarrel Hartfiel
Summer Team: Texas Blue Chips
Head coach: Mitch Malone

2001-2002 H.S. Stats
15 PPG.
7 RPG.
6 Assists/game

Darrius Brannon
6'9" Forward

Lee College
Head Coach: Roy Champagne
Port Arthur Lincoln HS
Head Coach: Terrul Henderson

2001-2002 Juco Stats
13 PPG.
9 RPG.
2.5 Blocks/game

Elijah Miller
6'10" Center

Heritage Christian Academy
Head Coach: Jerome Tang
Summer Team: Fort Worth Lions
Head Coach: Mike Hatch

2001-2002 H.S. Stats
13 PPG.
7 RPG.
4 Blocks/game


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