LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Four impressive high school products have each signed a national letter-of-intent to continue their basketball playing careers at the University of Louisville, ranking this Cardinal group among the nation's top recruiting classes.
The list of stellar signees includes: Rakeem Buckles, a 6-8, 200-pound forward from Miami (Fla.) Monsignor Pace High School; Mike Marra, a 6-4, 200-pound guard from Smithfield, R.I. who currently plays at Northfield (Mass.) Mount Hermon; Peyton Siva, a 5-11, 180-pound guard from Franklin High School in Seattle, Wash.; and Stephan Van Treese, a 6-9, 220-pound forward from Indianapolis (Ind.) North High School. The group has the Cardinals' recruiting class currently ranked among the top 12 teams by ESPN.com, 12th in the nation by Rivals.com and 19th by Scout.com.
"The thing that sticks out about this class is that I couldn't tell you which player has the most potential," said U of L Coach Rick Pitino. "They're all terrific four-year basketball players. Peyton is probably the highest ranked player right now, but only hard work will determine who will go the farthest in four years. I think they will all have stellar college careers and our fans will get a great thrill out of watching them develop. This group, combined with our current freshman class, gives us eight or nine young players to form a very important nucleus for the future of Louisville Basketball."
Buckles averaged 12.6 points and 9.7 rebounds for Coach Mark Lieberman at Monsignor Pace High School, which posted a 23-9 record last season won its second straight Class 4A Florida state championship.
Buckles is ranked as the No. 40 player in the class of 2009 by Rivals.com, 47th by USA Today analyst Rob Harrington, No. 48 by Scout.com and No. 74 among the ESPN 100. He was a first-team All-Dade County selection by the Miami Herald.
"Rakeem is a young man with great potential," said Pitino. "He runs well, jumps well, is very long, a good shot blocker, and can put it on the floor. He comes from a program that is regularly in the thick of the state championship race every year. He's a much needed presence with the departure of Earl Clark after this season."
A third-team all-state selection by the Florida Sports Writers Association as a junior, Buckles also considered Miami, Florida, Florida State and Cincinnati before signing with the Cardinals.
Marra (pronounced MAR-uh) averaged 19.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals last season for Coach John Carroll in helping Northfield Mt. Hermon to an 18-10 record. A 47 percent shooter from three-point range last year, he is ranked among the top 50 shooting guards in the nation by ESPN.com.
"Mike is probably the best high school shooter I've ever seen in over 30 years of coaching," said Pitino. "Not only does he have great range, but he get's it off quickly. He's a good athlete who will need to work on his defense and ball-handling ability. The NBA three-point line is a very comfortable shot for him."
Marra, who spent three seasons at Smithfield (R.I.) High school before moving to Northfield Mt. Hermon, averaged 22.1 points and 11 rebounds during the 2006-07 season at Smithfield when he hit a school-record 111 three-pointers. Last season at Mt. Hermon, he scored 36 points in one game while hitting 10-of-11 shots from three-point range. Mount Hermon has sent 17 players to NCAA Division I schools over the last three years.
Marra selected Louisville after also considering Notre Dame, Providence, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Siva (pronounced SEE-va) averaged 21.1 points, 6.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 steals as a junior for Coach Jason Kerr in helping Franklin High School to a 24-3 record and a fifth-place finish in the Washington state Class 4A tournament.
"Peyton is much needed point guard help for our team," said Pitino. "He's an explosive offensive talent, very fast, very athletic and he shoots the ball well. With Andre (McGee) leaving after this year and Edgar (Sosa) the next, he will be needed by our basketball team."
A three-year captain for Franklin, Siva is ranked No. 28 nationally in the ESPN 100, 49th by Rivals.com, No. 51 by USA Today recruiting analyst Rob Harrington, and 54th nationally by Scout.com. He averaged 13.2 points as a freshman in helping win the state 4A championship at Franklin, which has recently produced such player in recent years as Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks), Aaron Brooks (Houston Rockets) and Venoy Overton (University of Washington). He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore. He scored a season-best 45 against Ranier Beach in the second game of his junior year.
Siva selected Louisville after also considering Washington, Arizona, Kentucky and Miami (Fla.).
Stephan Van Treese
Van Treese averaged 11.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists as a junior for Coach Jack Keefer at Lawrence North High School, which posted an 18-6 record and reached the sectional finals. Lawrence North is currently ranked 23rd nationally in the ESPN RISE Fab 50 Boys Basketball rankings.
"Stephan is a strong, tough, hard-nosed basketball player who brings it every day," said Pitino. "He has a nice touch from 15-feet, runs extremely well, and understands how to play the game. He will fit into our system like a glove."
A two-year starter at Lawrence North, Van Treese is ranked No. 67 by USA Today analyst Rob Harrington. He was honored on the Indianapolis Star's 2008 Super Team.
Van Treese selected Louisville after also receiving interest from Ohio State and UCLA.