Amir Johnson heads talented group of signees

Seven high school basketball standouts have signed national letters of intent to play next season at the University of Louisville.

Rick Pitino calls his seven member University of Louisville 2005 recruiting class the best haul of his college coaching career.

Headlined by 6-9 power forward Amir Johnson, Pitino and the Cardinals also received binding letters of intent this week from 6-5 Bryan Harvey, 7-0 Clarence Holloway, 7-0 Jonathan Huffman, 5-11 Andre McGee, 6-8 Chad Millard and 6-5 Terrence Williams.

"This is the best recruiting class that I've been involved with since I've been a college coach," Pitino said. "This is a great class because these players attitudes match their ability on the court."

Heading into the Big East next season, Pitino's team will lose seniors Ellis Myles, Otis George and Larry O'Bannon. And with the expected early departure of junior All-America forward Francisco Garcia, Pitino said it was important for his program to reload with several talented prospects.

"We needed to sign a great recruiting class and we did," Pitino said. "This is a deep and talented class. These players have the size and talent to replace the guys who will depart after this season."

And while Johnson, whom Pitino called "potentially the best player in the country," is the highest rated prospect of the bunch, point guard Andre McGee might be the most important signee of the class.

"Andre is the pied piper for us," Pitino said. "He's a great leader for this group. He can get into lane and score. He's a special young man."

The Cardinals also met their needs inside by signing four players 6-8 or taller. Also, 6-11 transfer David Padgett, who played last season at Kansas and who is sitting out this season at U of L, will be eligible in 2005-06.

"Clarence Holloway is better and bigger physically than Nazi Mohammad at the same stage," Pitino said. He's extremely hungry to improve, has great size and terrific hands. The sky is the limit to how good he can become."

"And Jonathan Huffman is one of the nation's biggest secrets," Pitino added. "He's the most intriguing recruit I've had in some time because he's seven foot tall with a Taquan Dean jump shot. To me, he's the most underrated big man in the country in high school basketball."

To help balance out the inside strength of the class, Pitino also signed talented perimeter prospects in Harvey, Williams and Millard.

"Bryan Harvey has great range and rotation on his jump shot," Pitino said. He gives us a great perimeter threat. He's the perfect spot-up shooter on the perimeter in relieving double-downs in trapping the post."

"And Chad Millard has a true passion for the game," Pitino continued. "He's a multi-dimensional basketball player who can play inside and outside."

If that weren't enough, Pitino compared Williams' athleticism to former NBA dunk champion and Atlanta Hawk superstar Dominique Wilkins.

"Terrence is a Doninique Wilkins type athlete," Pitino said. "He's an atheltic phenomenon who can play multiple positions. He's a good passer and is a very physical wing player that will only get better."

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