Pitino calls recruiting class "outstanding"

Rick Pitino unveiled his four-man 2008 recruiting class Wednesday – a class the UofL coach said "forms a very important nucleus for the future of Louisville basketball," in combination with his current freshman class. (Press conference audio included).

There were no surprises on the first day of the week-long early signing period as Pitino announced the signings of Seattle (WA) Frankling PG Peyton Siva, Miami (FL) Pace PF Rakeem Buckles, Northfield (MA) Mount Hermon SG Mike Marra and Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence North PFStephan Van Treese.

"All four young men have terrific potential to be outstanding college basketball players," Pitino said. "This is three classes in a row that are extremely strong. This class falls in line with what we want character-wise and young men who are passionate about the game of basketball and want to reach their potential.

"I couldn't tell you which one will be the best player by the time their senior year comes around," Pitino added. "It's an outstanding class. They're all very well coached and play on good high school teams and they're all championship driven."

Peyton Siva

Pitino said that the 5-11, 160-pound Siva is the "most ready" to play next season.

"He's going to bring us the necessary point guard help when Andre (McGee) and Edgar Sosa leave," said Pitino. "Peyton is very explosive and he does that from a jumping standpoint that you don't see many guys 6-foot do. He also shoots it well and he really worked on developing his point guard skills this summer. And I think he did an outstanding job of that. He really makes other people better now and he's a good defensive player."

Siva, ranked the No. 54 prospect by Scout.com, has been knocked for having a scorer's mentality at the point guard position. Pitino didn't sound too worried about that Wednesday.

"The only pass-first guys I've seen are guys that can't shoot," Pitino said. "He's very unselfish and I think he'll have a very good assist-turnover ratio."

Pitino said that the 6'8, 200-pound Buckles could develop into a player similar to current Louisville junior forward Earl Clark down the road.

"I went to see him play and in 45 minutes I (knew) this kid was going to be terrific," said Pitino. "If he was in New York City he would be blown up all over the country."

Buckles, ranked No. 48 by Scout.com, averaged 12.6 points and 9.7 points as a junior while leading his team to the Class 4A Florida state championship. He chose Louisville over Miami, Florida State and Cincinnati.

"He's very, very quick and athletic," Pitino said. "He puts the ball on the floor well and creates things. He ‘s a good shot blocker and rebounder."

Rakeem Buckles

Pitino paid the 6'4, 200-pound Marra, who made 111 three-pointers as a sophomore, an enormous compliment. Marra averaged 19.2 points per game as a junior and made 47 percent of his three's last season.

"The one thing that sticks out about him – I've been recruiting a long time – he's the best high school shooter I've seen in my life," Pitino said. "That's obviously quite a statement. Now he has to get the rest of his game to catch up to his shooting prowess. But he has NBA range, he gets it off quickly and he has perfect form and perfect arch."

Marra also considered Providence, UMass, Notre Dame and Rhode Island.

"He's got to tune up the passing and defense areas," Pitino said. "He's the best (shooter) I've seen. I've never seen a guy who could stand out a foot or two beyond NBA range and very comfortably with perfect form and knock it down."

Van Treese was the last player to commit to the Cardinals. Pitino said the 6'9, 220-pound forward could develop into a good college player.

"I think he has strong upside because he's strong, tough and a blue-collar worker who brings it every day," Pitino said. "He jumps well, passes, understands the game. He's very similar to a young man I coached at KentuckyMark Pope. He's very passionate about the game."

Van Treese averaged 11.6 points and 9.7 rebounds as a junior. He's been ranked the No. 67 player nationally by USA Today analyst Rob Harrington.

Pitino said the Cardinals are likely done recruiting for the 2009 class, though he left the door open on the possibility of adding one more prospect next spring.

"We're still possibly recruiting one more player but that will be a spring decision," Pitino said. "We're concentrating on the sophomore and junior classes."

Scout.com ranks Louisville the No. 19 recruiting class in the nation.

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