DeJuan Blair proud to be a Panther

University of Pittsburgh Head Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon received some incredible news when hulking power forward DeJuan Blair from Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, PA verbally committed to the Panthers. The PantherDigest.com spoke with him about his decision.

"I'm very happy with my decision. I'm happy to be a Panther and staying close to home," stated hulking power forward DeJuan Blair (6-foot-7 inches, 250 pounds) from Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, PA.

Scout.com ranks Blair a "four-star" prospect and the 12th best power forward in the nation. He was named first-team All-State Class AAAA by the Associated Press as a junior.

"I have to be honest. When I started the recruiting process, I didn't even consider Pitt," stated Blair. "I wanted to go to a top program that would offer me playing time. My goal was to get to college and win a national championship."

"The more I sat down and thought about it, everything I wanted was right there at Pitt. I want to get to Pitt, have them build around me and win a national championship. The basketball program has been good; I want to make them better."

Blair held a press conference at Schenley High School to announce his commitment. He completed two official visits to Kansas State (09/22) and Tennessee (10/20).

DeJuan made it clear that location and family were strongly factored into his final decision. "I thought about my family and friends when I made this decision. I'm a local guy and I started to realize how important it would be to stay close to home," said Blair. "I think it will be special to be a hometown hero. I can help Pitt win a national championship and have my family and friends watch me play. I couldn't pass that up."

Blair had indicated that "Everyone around me is happy with my decision." There were several people shocked as well. "I called D.J. (Kennedy) and told him I committed to Pitt and he was shocked," said Blair. "I think he may be giving Pitt and stronger look." D. J. Kennedy, Blair's teammate and friend, has been offered a scholarship by a number of quality programs. He recently accompanied Blair on a visit to Kansas State.

Blair received scholarship offers from fifteen upper echelon basketball programs. Cincinnati, Xavier, Tennessee, Kansas State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Miami (FL) and Florida were amongst the school to extend an offer.

When asked if he planned on personally recruiting local standouts Herb Pope from Aliquippa High School in Aliquippa, PA and Terrelle Pryor from Jeannette Senior High School in Jeannette, PA, DeJuan was quick to reply, "I haven't talk with them yet. I'm not going to try to sway anyone's decision but I will tell them why I chose Pitt. It would be great to play with them."

Blair is the fourth player to join the Panthers' 2007 recruiting class. He joins small forward Darnell Dodson (6-foot-7 inches, 210 pounds) from Greenbelt, MD, center Gary McGhee (6-foot-10 inches, 245 pounds) from Anderson, IN and shooting guard Bradley Wannamaker (6-foot-4 inches, 200 pounds) from Philadelphia, PA.

"Coach Dixon and I talked about next year. He told me I would have a good chance to start," said Blair. "The Big East is a physical conference and that's my style of play. Pitt plays in the best conference in the country against some of the best teams in the country. I like that a lot."

"I know I'm going to be a freshman, but I plan on being a team leader. My goal is to win a national championship at Pitt. I would like to think they can build around me and take the Panthers to the next level."

NOTE: The University of Pittsburgh has one scholarship remaining. Coach Dixon and his revamped staff are recruiting a number of players including center Dele Coker (6-foot-10 inches, 270 pounds) from South Kent School (South Kent, CT), power forward / center Aaron Pogue (6-foot-9 inches, 280 pounds) from Dunbar High School (Dayton, OH), power forward Michael Beasley (6-foot-9 inches, 210 pounds) from Notre Dame Preparatory School (Fitchburg, MA), Herb Pope (6-foot-9 inches, 220 pounds) from Aliquippa High School (Aliquippa, PA), point guard Chris Wright (6-foot-1 inches, 180 pounds) from St. Johns College High School (Washington D.C.) and center Cassin Diggs from Concordia Cloud County Community College (Concordia, KS).


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