Saturday, November 16, 2002

Louisville, Western Kentucky sign hoopsters

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Two junior college players and a high school guard have signed national letters-of-intent to play basketball at Louisville, coach Rick Pitino said Friday.

Nate Daniels, a high-scoring 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward at Broward Community College in Florida, and Nouha Diakite, a 6-10, 215-pound shot-blocking specialist from Barton County Community College in Kansas, officially signed with the Cardinals. Louisville also landed Brandon Jenkins, a 6-3 guard from Southeastern High School in Detroit.

Meanwhile, Western Kentucky announced the signings of two high school players - Josh Higgins, a 7-foot, 300-pound center from Dayton, Ohio, and Nick Hill, a 6-4 guard from DuQuoin, Ill. Higgins is expected to help fill the void when star center Chris Marcus graduates after this season.

Louisville's signees include a prolific junior college scorer and another inside player known for his defense.

Daniels was the nation's second-leading junior college scorer as a freshman last season at Broward Community College. He averaged 30.7 points, along with 7.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He shot 63 percent from the field and surpassed 40 points in four games and 50 points twice.

Pitino said he liked Daniels' versatility.

"Nate is a very explosive scorer with outstanding range," Pitino said. "He has the potential to be a good low post player as well as a perimeter player because of his size."

Daniels scored 35 points, hitting 6-of-12 3-point shots, in Broward's season-opening victory last Saturday.

Diakite was averaging 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots in Barton County's first five games this season.

"Nouha is a terrific shot blocker," Pitino said. "He's a great runner, hard worker and outstanding rebounder. He provides our team with more shot-blocking ability and will play immediately for us, as will Nate."

Diakite averaged six points and five rebounds as a freshman at Barton County. He was second on the team with 40 blocked shots while playing behind Robert Whaley, the nation's top-rated junior college center.

Jenkins, an all-state selection, averaged 21.3 points, 5.7 assists and 5.2 rebounds as a junior last season at Southeastern High School, where he has started three seasons.

"He has great size for a point guard and is a great leader who really understands the game through a coach's eye," Pitino said.

At Western, the Hilltoppers landed a post player in Higgins who averaged 13.9 points and 7.9 rebounds last season at Vandalia-Butler High School. He shot 59.9 percent from the field and 77.9 percent from the free throw line.

Western coach Dennis Felton said signing a big man was a priority since Marcus and forwards David Boyden and Nate Williams are seniors.

"Josh is big and strong enough to come in and hold his ground physically, which is what we will need from him," Felton said. "He also has terrific skill level at his size, so it will be exciting to watch him grow."

Hill, an all-state selection, averaged 26.7 points, 6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last season for DuQuoin High School. He shot 50 percent from the field and 86 percent from the foul line.

"I believe Nick will be another versatile, do-it-all guard which I have a great fondness for," Felton said.

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No. 4 Texas 77, No. 16 Georgia 71
No. 18 Marquette 73, Villanova 61
Louisville, Western Kentucky sign hoopsters
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Alter 42, Reading 10
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Beechwood 28, Holy Cross 6
Highlands 52, Scott 0
Boone Co. 40, Louisville Eastern 39
LexCath 29, CovCath 27
Trinity 31, Dixie Heights 16
Roncalli 17, East Central 10 (OT)
Mason Co. 49, Lloyd 21
Newport Central Catholic 47, Raceland 7

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