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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Looking Past The Beale Street Incident, Angel Garcia Commits to Tigers

Power forward commits to U of M
Garcia adds perimeter game, size to frontcourt

By Dan Wolken
Monday, September 3, 2007

On an otherwise disappointing day for the University of Memphis basketball program, coach John Calipari did get some good news Sunday.

It almost seemed to be heaven sent.

Angel Garcia, a Puerto Rican power forward who has been one of the top targets of Memphis' recruiting efforts this summer, gave a commitment to the Tiger coaching staff, joining twin forwards Marcus and Markeiff Morris from Philadelphia in a suddenly stellar 2008 recruiting class.

"He's coming to Memphis," said Garcia's uncle, Israel Rodriguez, with whom the 6-10 forward lives in East Chicago, Ind. "He's looking forward to playing with the Morris twins, and I'm happy he made the decision. Coach Cal is a great coach, and he had a great time with the team when he was there."

Though Garcia committed with the intent of enrolling in 2008, he still has work to do. When Garcia moved to the U.S. last year from Puerto Rico, his English was limited and he was behind academically. But Rodriguez said Garcia is working hard to become eligible for college next year.

"That's what he's focusing on now, and he's doing pretty good," Rodriguez said

Garcia's commitment gives Memphis three players ranked in the top 100 for the class of 2008. Marcus Morris, a 6-7 wing, is ranked No. 37 overall by, while Markeiff Morris is a 6-8 post player ranked 74th.

Though Garcia is 6-10, 210 pounds, his strength is the perimeter game and ability to run the floor, which he displayed at Calipari's elite camp in June. Garcia is ranked 27th by, but many believe he would be a top 10 player if he had played the AAU circuit this summer rather than for the Puerto Rican national team.

Memphis envisions all three being able to play at the same time, giving the Tigers a big, athletic frontcourt for at least the next couple years.

The Tigers are still hoping to get a commitment from an elite guard, the top target being St. George's Elliot Williams, who is deciding between Memphis, Tennessee, Duke and Virginia.

Rodriguez said Memphis' diligence in the recruiting process was a big factor in Garcia choosing Memphis over Indiana. Tigers assistant Chuck Martin, for instance, traveled to Serbia this summer to watch Garcia play in the world under-19 championships.

"I think both are great schools, and they both were there from Day 1," Rodriguez said. "But at the end, he had to make the decision. It was what he wanted."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

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