Pitino discusses signees

Four high school products and the nation's top junior college prospect ranks the Cardinals in the nation's top three recruiting classes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Four impressive high school products and the nation's top junior college player have each signed a national letter-of-intent to continue their basketball playing careers at the University of Louisville, ranking the recruiting class among the top three nationally.

The list of stellar signees includes: Terrance Farley, a 6-10, 215-pound center from Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville; Brian Johnson, a 6-8, 230-pound forward from Glenarden, Md. who will play his senior year at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.; Donta Smith (pronounced DON-tay), a 6-7, 225-pound guard/forward from LaGrange, Ky. who is the nation's top junior college prospect as a sophomore this season at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, Ill.; Sebastian Telfair, a 5-11, 170-pound guard from Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., who has already become a New York hoops legend; and Lorrenzo Wade, a 6-5, 185-pound guard from Las Vegas, Nev., who will play his final prep season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va.

The group has propelled the Cardinals to a ranking of third among the top recruiting classes in the nation by at least three different sources: The Hoop Scoop, Insiders.com and the Southeast Regional Basketball Report.

"Terrance is more of a down-the-road basketball player," said U of L Men's Basketball Coach Rick Pitino. "He's long, a legit 6-10 player who runs the floor. He blocks shots well, along the lines of a Theo Ratliff type of player. He's got a good future and we believe he'll become an outstanding player by his junior or senior year in college."

"Brian is a solid inside-outside competitor," said Pitino. "He has the chance to really become a big, wide body for us. He has great touch from the outside but is also very skilled on the inside. He has great potential."

"Donta is the number one junior college player in the country," said Pitino. "He reminds me a lot of Ron Artest. He really can defend well. He's a tough, hard-nosed player who is very quick and knows how to pass. He's just a tremendous athlete."

"Sebastian is everything that the marquee says about him," said Pitino. "He's a premier point guard who makes everyone else on the court better. He's got exciting skills and can do it all on the court --he can defend, pass, go by anyone, handles pressure, is a much improved outside shooter. He reminds me of an Isiah Thomas type player in high school. If he can ever develop into the Isiah Thomas of college and the pros, that would be awesome. He's that kind of talent."

"Lorrenzo is not only a great talent, but he really understands how to play the game," said Pitino. "He's a triple threat guy: he shoots, passes and drives really well. His potential is unlimited. He could really go far as his strength is enhanced."

Terrance Farley

Farley averaged 10.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and blocked a school-record 96 shots as a junior for a balanced Pleasure Ridge Park team that posted a 27-4 record and reached the regional semifinals.

"Terrance's upside is so strong," said PRP Coach Dale Mabrey. "He runs the floor like a deer, has great timing on blocking shots and is a strong rebounder. He had a strong week at the ABCD camp last summer and really turned a lot of heads. He's a quality young man who can really develop into something special."

Farley is ranked the No. 2 player in the state of Kentucky by Rick Bolus' High Potential Recruiting Service and is a Street & Smith's honorable mention All-America selection and Louisville All-Metro pick. PRP has been rated among the top five teams in the state entering this season.

Farley produced scored a season-high 19 points against both Manual and Fairdale and grabbed a season-best 16 rebounds against Shawnee.

A first-team all-state selection as a junior, Farley chose to attend Louisville early in the recruiting process after also considering Tennessee, Indiana and Florida State.

Brian Johnson

Johnson averaged 15.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and two blocked shots for Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va. as a junior, leading his team to a 25-5 record, No. 21 final ranking by USA Today and a No. 6 ranking in the South Region. He will play his senior season at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.

A second-team Street & Smith's All-America selection, Johnson enters the season ranked as the nation's No. 27 prospect by PrepStars Recruiters Handbook, No. 28 by Insiders and is 30th by Hoop Scoop. He was an All-Metropolitan selection by the Washington Post and was the Most Outstanding Player at the Beachball Classic.

"Brian will be a real focal point of our team this year," said Oak Hill Academy Coach Steve Smith, whose team is ranked No. 1 by Street & Smith's entering the season. "I really like his versatility. With his great size, he's really good down low, but he can step out and play well facing the basket. He's a very good rebounder, good passer and shoots it well."

He averaged 17.5 points, 12 rebounds and 5.0 blocked shots as a sophomore in leading Bishop O'Connell to a 30-7 record and the 2002 Virginia state championship. As a freshman, he averaged 10.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and three blocked shots as Bishop O'Connell finished 17-13.

The youngest member of the 2002 U.S. Junior National team, Johnson participated in the 2003 USA Basketball Men's National Team Trials and was named a finalist for the 2003 USA Junior World Championship Team. He also participated in the 2002 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival for the East Team that won a silver medal when he averaged 10.0 points and 9.2 rebounds in five games.

Johnson narrowed his choices to Arizona, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame before signing with the Cardinals.

Donta Smith

Smith averaged 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3..3 assists and 3.1 steals as a freshman last season in leading Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, Ill., to a 34-2 record and both the region and district championships.

He shot 52.2 percent from the field, including 50 percent from three-point range for Southeastern Illinois, which spent most of last season ranked second nationally and had six players who averaged scoring in double figures. Six Southeastern Illinois players signed with NCAA Division I schools last year.

"Donta chance to be a very special player," said Southeastern Illinois Coach Todd Franklin. "There just aren't many better at his position. He's a perimeter player with a broad wing span who shoots the three really well, but he can go low and score, too. I expect him to be a big impact player there next year."

Smith, who scored a season-high 35 points against Southwest Tennessee last season, earned all-conference and all-region honors while also being named the region's Freshman of the Year, district MVP and earning all-tournament honors at the NJCAA national tournament. He has averaged 29 points in his first three outings this season for Southeastern Illinois College, which entered the season ranked No. 4 in the NJCAA preseason poll.

The preseason junior college Player of the Year by Street & Smith's College Basketball, Smith prepped at Oldham County High School in Buckner, Ky. He was a first-team all-state selection as a senior in leading Oldham County to a 29-3 record and a spot in the state tournament, where they lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Lexington Catholic. He averaged 18 points and 11.6 rebounds while also earning all-state honors as an end on the Oldham County football team.

Smith chose to attend Louisville after also considering Oklahoma, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Iowa State, and Missouri.

Sebastian Telfair

Telfair averaged 28 points, 7.5 assists and three steals a game as a junior in leading Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., to a 31-4 record and the city championship.

New York's Class A Player of the Year last season, Telfair a first-team Street & Smith's All-America selection and enters the season ranked as the nation's No. 7 prospect by PrepStars Recruiters Handbook and is ninth by Hoop Scoop.

Telfair enters his senior year with 2,006 career points. He averaged 29 points, seven assists and 3.5 steals as a sophomore at Lincoln and produced 17.7 points and seven assists a game as a freshman. He scored 18 points in the state championship game over Christ the King last season.

His brother Jamel Thomas was a two-time All-Big East selection at Providence (1997-99) and he's a cousin of the Phoenix Suns' Stephon Marbury, who also prepped at Lincoln. He set the USA Basketball Development Festival single-game record with 14 assists in 2002.

"Sebastian is a great guard," said Lincoln Coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton. "He does everything well: penetrate, pass, dribble and shoot from outside."

Telfair was selected to the ABCD all-star game for the the past four straight years -- earning MVP laurels twice -- and was the youngest player ever invited to the camp as a freshman.

He chose the Cardinals over Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, St. John's and Kentucky.

Lorrenzo Wade

Wade averaged 17.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and two steals in leading Las Vegas (N.V.) Cheyenne High School to a 31-1 record and the 2003 Nevada Class 4A state championship. He will play his final prep season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va.

Wade was a first-team all-state, all-region and all-division selection and was named co-MVP of the state tournament last season with his teammate Chris Fuller. He averaged 21.5 points in six postseason games last season en route to Cheyenne's first-ever state title. He scored 20 points in the championship game after totalling 22 points and 14 rebounds in the semifinals.

"Lorrenzo is one of the most fundamentally sound players I have ever coached," said Cheyenne Coach Larry Johnson. "He's very seldom out of control. He's a smart player who really knows how to play the game."

"Lorrenzo is a smooth player," said Hargrave Coach Kevin Keatts. "He gets a lot of things done and sometimes you don't even realize it's happening. He shoots well from out side, can take it to the whole and and can post up and score."

Wade is ranked among the nation's top 50 players by PrepStars Recruiters Handbook and is ranked among the nation's top 20 shooting guards by RivalsHoops. He was honored on the all-tournament team at the adidas Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas during the summer.

Wade averaged 14 points and four rebounds in 2001-02 when Cheyenne posted a 30-5 record and was state runner-up.

Wade opted to sign with the Cardinals after also considering Arizona State, Marquette and Tennessee.


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