The Phoenix-area connection continues for the University of Arizona men’s basketball team, with 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard Brendon Lavender of Mesa’s Mountain View High School committing to the Wildcats on Friday.
The junior visited UA two weeks ago and chose the Cats over Kansas and North Carolina. He declined to take official visits to those schools, deciding to end the recruiting process by committing to UA.
The combo guard from Class 5A Division I state champion Mountain View said he had a “very good visit” and enjoyed playing in pickup games with UA players.
“I thought I played well, and I fit in,” he said.
Lavender’s commitment continues UA’s strong recruiting tradition in the Phoenix area, where it has been able to woo top players such as Mike Bibby, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye – all in the NBA – and incoming freshmen Jerryd Bayless and Zane Johnson.
“It’s huge, and it feels great,” Lavender said of the Phoenix connection. “I’m very happy to be in that category.”
Lavender is rated at No. 101 by Rivals.com and No. 79 by Scout.com.
He averaged 11.4 points, five assists and three rebounds per game last season. He hit 47 percent of his 3-pointers.
“Brendon is extremely unselfish and a very good passer,” said Gary Ernst, his coach at Mountain View. “He’s a very good defender. He’s a total player.”
Passing ability and defensive skills are two of UA coach Lute Olson’s top demands of players.
Scout.com’s Dave Telep agreed with Ernst’s assessment.
“He’s a guy who can play without the ball and can be a secondary ballhandler,” Telep said of Lavender. “And he’ll make shots. He’s an unselfish kid who has a really good feel for the game.”
Lavender’s commitment comes five days after 6-7 forward Emmanuel Negedu of Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., committed to UA.
UA has one more scholarship to give for the 2008-09 class, or two, if Chase Budinger leaves early for the NBA after next season.
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THE NEW GUYS
2007-08 class (signed): Jerryd Bayless, 6-3 guard; Jamelle Horne, 6-7 forward; Zane Johnson, 6-6 forward; Laval Lucas-Perry, 6-2 guard; Alex Jacobson, 7-0 center
2008-09 class (verbal): Emmanuel Negedu, 6-7 forward; Brendon Lavender, 6-4 guard