Chandler making big strides

Michael Chandler normally plays with the Spiece Indy Heat 16's on the AAU circuit. Last week, though, the 2011 Louisville commit stepped up in competition with the Chicago Express 17's at the Adidas Take Five Classic and made a strong impression.

Michael Chandler, the No. 4 center prospect in the Class of 2011, made a strong statement last week in Cincinnati that he's going to be a major force nationally the next couple seasons.

Though Chandler normally plays on the 16-and-under AAU with the Spiece Indy Heat, the 6-10, 220-pound junior joined forces with the Chicago Express at the Adidas It Takes Five Classic. Chandler performed well against older competition and more than held his own against Fab Melo, dropping 11 points and three blocks on the top-five 2010 prospect.

"I played with this team (Express) because I feel that I need to get better," Chandler said. "I was playing against 16's and I was selling the competition short so I wanted to see how I would do against the bigger, older people."

Rick Pitino caught Chandler's show in Cincinnati and had to be pleased with the big fellow's play. Chandler has made significant improvement throughout the spring and was consistently more aggressive at both ends of the court in Cincinnati. He's possesses good athleticism, grabs rebounds and challenges shots in the paint and has the strength to finish around the rim offensively.

"I still need to be a little more active rebounding and asking for the ball," Chandler said. "I've been working more on handling the ball and face-up jump shots. I'm getting double and triple teamed and I need to work on other ways to beat the double-team. I can't just use my back to the basket moves."

Even though his future college coach was courtside in Cincinnati, Chandler said that fact didn't affect his play.

"I don't feel added pressure because I just go out and do what I can," Chandler said. "I don't worry about the college coaches. I just go out and try to win the game."

Chandler's stock should continue to rise this month. He'll head to the Nike Peach Jam next week and will finish out the month in Florida. Though other college coaches might harbor hopes for Chandler's services, the Indianapolis star says he's solid with the Cardinals.

"I'm real excited for Louisville," Chandler said. "I can't wait to get there."

Chandler usually teams with Lawrence North teammate Ryan Taylor on the AAU circuit. Taylor, another 2011 Louisville commit, didn't join Chandler in Cincinnati, instead playing in a local AAU tournament in Indianapolis. Rick Pitino made a special trip to Indy last week to check in on Taylor, one of the top wing prospects in his class nationally.

"I talk to him every day," Chandler said. "I see him most of the week so we work out and stuff like that and try to get better."

Chandler said he and Taylor are also working to convince another 2011 Indianapolis standout to join them at Louisville. Obviously, the player in question is point guard Marquis Teague. Teague was one of the top prospects at the King City Classic last week and has Louisville at the top of his list.

"I'm trying hard to get Marquis," said Chandler. "He's the big key to the puzzle. We've got a big man (Chandler), a nice small forward (Taylor) and all we need now is a point like Marquis."

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