Blackshear adds 'star power' for Louisville

Rick Pitino is working on a blockbuster 2011 recruiting class. The Louisville coach had three quality commitments from Michael Chandler, Zach Price and Ryan Taylor. Now with five-star guard Wayne Blackshear in the fold, Louisville's class has genuine star power.

Wayne Blackshear gave Rick Pitino a nice Christmas present.

Before Blackshear phoned Pitino yesterday to verbally commit to Louisville, the Cardinals already had three quality 2011 commitments from 6'10 center Michael Chandler, 6'9 power forward Zach Price and 6'6 small forward Ryan Taylor. Chandler is rated the No. 13 prospect in the nation, Price is ranked No. 37 and Taylor is regarded as a Top 100 prospect.

Now, Pitino's 2011 recruiting class – a blockbuster in the making – has genuine star power.

"Wayne Blackshear's commitment is pretty significant," recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said. "They already had a bunch of guys that can play and now they've added a guy that has legitimate star power. He's basically a lock McDonald's All-American pick and he's putting up ridiculous numbers this season in high school games."

A five-star prospect, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Blackshear is ranked the No. 3 shooting guard nationally in the junior class and No. 12 overall. It's not hard to understand why Pitino was elated to receive a commitment from Blackshear on Christmas.

"I sat down with my family and we just decided to go ahead and do it," Blackshear told Saturday morning. "Coach P is a great coach and I like his style of play. He was happy to hear that I committed and he said I made his day."

Blackshear has been sensational early this season. He helped Morgan Park to a 10-1 start, posting 42 points and 18 rebounds against East Aurora, 39 points and 21 rebounds against Uplift and 34 points and 10 rebounds against St. Rita, 41 points and 11 rebounds against Robinson, and 26 points and 11 boards against Vocational.

"The season is going well," said Blackshear. "I've gotten off to an excellent start. I'm in a groove right now. I'm shooting it well and going to the hole strong. I'm just staying aggressive."

Blackshear made an unofficial visit to Louisville earlier this fall and also tripped to Illinois, Texas, Marquette. Blackshear said the 'comfort-level' he felt at Louisville gave the Cardinals the edge when he made his decision.

"I liked hanging out with the team," Blackshear said. "I just felt comfortable with those guys."

Now Blackshear wants to help Pitino land another five-star addition to Louisville's backcourt in 2011-12. With Chigago's top prospect in the fold, Pitino will turn his entire attention to landing a commitment from point guard Marquis Teague, the best prospect in Indianapolis and the No. 5 ranked prospect in the Class of 2011.

"It's going to be a real good class," Blackshear said. "There are a lot of top players coming in. I keep in touch with Marquis. We talk when we have a chance. I'm going to try to get him to go to Louisville but that's up to him. When we get there I think we should have one of the top recruiting classes."

With two five-star prospects (Blackshear and Chandler) and one four-star prospect (Price) committed, Louisville might have the best 2011 recruiting class in the nation right now. A commitment next from Marquis Teague would certainly put the Cardinals at the head of the class.

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