Men's, women's hoops teams lure impressive recruits in early
Photo by Jeff Jacobson
November's early signing period proved bountiful for KU basketball's
future. Men's coach Roy Williams announced the signing of
four highly touted recruits Jeremy Case, J.R. Giddens,
David Padgett and Omar Wilkes to national letters of
intent, and women's coach Marian Washington welcomed Sharita
Smith, who also signed a letter of intent.
Case, a 6-0 guard from McAlester, Okla., scored 25.7 points
per game last year at McAlester High. Case's father, Win,
is a former Oklahoma State standout and is now the head coach
at Oklahoma City University.
"Jeremy Case is a youngster who can really shoot the
basketball and knows how to play the game," Coach Roy
Williams said. "I think those are two things that are
really important to us and the way we play. It's another scenario
where we have a son of a coach, and I like that. He's going
to get bigger and stronger and I think he'll be very dedicated
to improving his game throughout his career. He's looking
forward to having a great senior year and we're really happy
to have him to say the least.
He'll be a good addition
to our family."
Giddens, a 6-5 guard from Oklahoma City, Okla., is rated
as the 17th-best prep player in the nation by ESPN.com. He
averaged 25 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season at
John Marshall High School.
"J.R. is an athletic youngster with great enthusiasm,"
Williams said. "Basketball-wise, he has a big-time flare
for the game; he is a runner, jumper and has great athleticism.
He can get way up in the air and works very hard to get his
shot. He is developing into a better shooter each time we
see him play."
Padgett, a 6-11 center from Reno, Nev., is ranked as the
15th-best high school player in the nation by ESPN.com. He
scored 22.4 points and grabbed 14.3 rebounds per game last
year at Reno High.
"David Padgett is the kind of kid we really felt like
we needed to add in this class with the post players since
we're losing Nick Collison and lost Drew (Gooden) last year,"
Williams said. "We really felt like we needed a high-quality
post player. He can run like crazy for a big guy. He's got
good hands, he's got good touch and he rebounds. There will
be some guys that will have a flashier game, but not any more
consistent game or fundamentally sound game than he has, and
it's another one of those scenarios where his dad was his
high school coach. He's a great, great kid and has a great
Wilkes,a 6-4 guard from Los Angeles, tallied 22 points, six
rebounds, five assists and four steals per game last season
at Loyola High School. He is the son of former UCLA and Los
Angeles Lakers standout Jamaal Wilkes.
"Omar Wilkes is a 6-4 true guard," Williams said.
"He can handle the ball, he can pass the ball, he can
shoot the ball, he can defend, he can drive. ... The best
thing I can say about Omar is that every time I watch him
play, his team does a lot better when he's in the game. He
provides a great deal of stability and leadership for what's
going on and he's all about winning. He's another youngster
that will work extremely hard and try to do the best that
he can with his game. He's got basketball in his family as
well, but we're interested in seeing how Omar's going to do.
He's a great, great youngster and we're very pleased.
I think he's got a lot of versatility which reminds me of
Steve Woodberry. He's not quite as skinny as Steve was for
sure, but he's a kid we're really happy about."
On the women's team, Sharita Smith is a 5-8 guard from Dallas
Lincoln High School in Dallas. She was named a Street &
Smith Preseason All-American and is rated 37th by All Star
Girls Report and 35th by Blue Star.
As a junior, Smith averaged 16 points, six assists and four
rebounds as she helped Lincoln reach the Class 4A state championship
game the past two years.
Smith has garnered numerous accolades throughout her career
both on the local and national levels including Showtime Nationals
All-America (2002), Street & Smith All-America Honorable
Mention (2002), Texas Sports Writers Association and Texas
Girls Coaches Association 4A All-State Second Team.
"Sharita is the kind of player who can come in and impact
our program immediately, she is that caliber of a guard,"
Washington said. "She has impressive quickness, can score
and creates for her teammates. She strengthens the depth we
have at the guard position, which is something we've needed.
What attracted us to her is that she is the 'total package'
as a player. With her scoring, quickness and ability to create
for teammates, she could become one of the top guards in the