Following the championship game of the Best of the Summer Tournament in Los Angeles, Julian Gamble called Haith to make his commitment.
Gamble, who is 16 and wears a size 19 shoes, averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds as junior at Southern High School in Durham, North Carolina, joins a class that includes point guard Edwin Rios and power forward Freddy Asprilla to solidify the class as clearly among the top 20 in the country.
Gamble chose Miami over Tennessee, Kentucky and St. John's giving Haith a big recruiting win over some of the nation's powers.
With Gamble being added to the mix, in two years, the University of Miami will have 6-foot-9, 250 pound brute Jimmy Graham, 6-foot-8, chiseled 6-foot-7, 240 pound Raymond Hicks, 235 pound Dwayne Collins and Asprilla which will form one of the best front lines in the nation. It will give the ‘Canes incredible depth in the post.
This is another piece to the puzzle that Haith is creating to help the ‘Canes win a National Championship.
And it was Haith that made the difference as Gamble made it clear that he was made to feel very wanted by the University of Miami after competing for Team In the Zone in the Breakdown Hoops Festival in Miami in mid-July.
"I felt that Miami just wanted me more than anyone," Gamble said. "It seemed like a great situation for me. It's a great city. The coaches are great guys. It's a great feeling to know that you don't have to worry about the recruiting process anymore and just get on with your senior season and put in work."
It was that trip to Miami that gave Gamble notoriety he had not previously had.
"Team In the Zone gave me the opportunity to come down and play in a big tournament. It was great. I went down there and played my heart out. I got some big time offers," Gamble said. "But when I heard about Miami, I was definitely interested because I've always wanted to go to an ACC school. I saw the campus. It's a great campus. I just want the opportunity to play basketball at a great school."
But most people still don't know anything about Gamble's commitment because he's barely been home since the Breakdown Hoops Festival. From there, he went to the Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas with the Worldwide Renegades and then to a tournament in Los Angeles.
"I haven't really talked to many people about my committing," Gamble said. "I was just kind of waiting to get back to tell people. My mom is excited. My sister is excited. My family is very excited about the opportunity for me.
"I can't wait to tell everyone when I get home."
After seeing Gamble play in the Breakdown Hoops Festival, Haith was awed by Gamble's dominance of the nation's No. 24 player J.J. Hickson, one Haith had been heavily recruiting. Gamble torched Hickson for 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks and had two thunderous dunks over the highly ranked Hickson.
Gamble noticed Haith's presence at every game he played from then on out. From his trip to Vegas to Los Angeles, Haith was front row to watch his future star in action.
"Between the Breakdown tournament and Vegas, I called coach Haith a lot and had some great conversations with him and texted him during the break. He was really up front and honest about everything with me, and he showed me how much he wanted me by being at all my games. He's great," Gamble said. "I am ready to get down there and work as hard as I can. It's a great opportunity to get to play for an up and coming team like Miami. He's a coach who tells you like it is. Whatever he tells you, he's going to do it. It's reassuring to play for someone who tells you what's going to happen and does happen."
And that was the difference between Miami and Tennessee, the closest competition for Gamble.
"It was pretty close, but I felt like Tennessee started to fade because I saw their coaches in Vegas, but I didn't feel the vibe I was getting. Miami started high and never stopped."
And Miami will reach the stars with Gamble in the Class of 2007.
Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at email@example.com
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