Bowling Green, Ky. — Western Kentucky University men’s basketball head coach Darrin Horn has completed his 2007-08 recruiting class with the announcement Monday that Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball Steffphon Pettigrew has signed a National Letter-of-Intent and will enroll in school in the fall.
Pettigrew earned the commonwealth’s highest honor, and was also named the Kentucky Player of the Year by both the Associated Press and Louisville Courier-Journal, after averaging a state-best 33.6 points per game and 13.8 rebounds per outing — which was second among all players — for Elizabethtown High School. Other honors picked up by Pettigrew last year include being named the Gatorade state Player of the Year, first-team all-state recognition from both the AP and Courier-Journal, 5th Region and district player-of-the-year accolades, and he was also chosen first-team all-region and all-district.
“Our recruiting philosophy is to focus on signing the best players from Kentucky first, and with Steffphon I think we have done that two years in a row now,” said Horn. “He’s a versatile combination guard-forward — we believe that he is another piece to the puzzle as we continue to build our program.”
A 6-foot-5, 220-pound guard/forward, Pettigrew helped lead the Panthers to a 17-11 finish as a senior which included a 7-3 record in district play. He shot 58.1 percent from the field — making 37.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the three-point arc — and 77 percent at the foul line, adding 60 blocks, 40 steals and 31 assists.
EHS went 28-4 his junior season, advancing to the championship game of the region tournament after winning the district title. He was named first-team all-state, region and district player of the year, and first-team all-region and all-district, and was also selected the MVP of the King of the Bluegrass Tournament, after averaging 21.3 points and 11 rebounds per game while shooting 57.7 percent from the field and recording 53 rejections and 40 thefts.
In his first year as a starter, Pettigrew helped the Panthers advance to the quarterfinals of the state Sweet 16 Tournament before falling to the eventual winner as they would post a 27-5 record while claiming the region and district championships. EHS was 26-5 in his first season on the varsity, winning the district tournament before advancing to the title game of the region tourney as he collected 18.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest.
While the Panthers posted a 98-25 (79.7%) record during his four-year career, Pettigrew set the school’s all-time standards for points and rebounds in a season as well as a career. In his three years as a starter, he scored 2,191 points — an average of 24.3 per outing — and grabbed 1,000 rebounds while averaging 10.9 per contest. Pettigrew was also credited with 156 blocks and 108 steals during that time.
Pettigrew won the one-on-one competition and finished second in the three-point shoot-out at the Kentucky-Ohio All-Star game before pouring in 26 points en route to earning Most Valuable Player honors in the contest, and later won the three-point competition prior to the Derby Classic in Louisville. He will also lead the commonwealth’s squad in the annual Kentucky-Indiana All-Star series this summer, which will include an appearance at E.A. Diddle Arena in the first of two games on June 16.
Pettigrew joins a recruiting class that also features a pair of high school seniors — B.J. Frazier and D.J. Magley — and Japeth Aguilar, who sat out as a transfer last winter and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
He is the first Kentucky Mr. Basketball to sign with the Hilltoppers since Steve Miller joined the program in 1984 out of Lexington’s Henry Clay High School. Terry Davis (1968), Jim McDaniels (1967) and Harry Todd (1958) are the other individuals who have collected the award and then played for WKU.
Pettigrew joins a program that has won more than 20 contests in each of the last three years, reaching national postseason play on two occasions. The Toppers were 22-11 overall in 2006-07 after playing the 58th-toughest non-conference schedule among the 336 NCAA Division I programs in the country.