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Monday, November 26, 2007

Angel's a Tiger: Garcia signs on with Coach Cal

Angel's a Tiger: Garcia signs on with Coach Cal
By Dan Wolken
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The University of Memphis this week received a letter-of-intent from forward Angel Garcia, wrapping up a relatively uneventful early-signing period for the 2008 recruiting class.

Though the Tigers expect to sign more players in the spring -- their primary targets are Philadelphia-area guard Tyreke Evans and Atlanta-area forward Wesley Witherspoon -- Garcia was their lone early signee.

Coach John Calipari on Tuesday compared the 6-foot-11 Garcia to former Tiger Shawne Williams, now with the Indiana Pacers.

"It's a big deal for us," Calipari said. "He's a big player who can play (wing) who can post, make that 3-pointer. He's a terrific shooter, can put it on the floor, and we'll be athletic around him. He's probably about the same athlete Shawne was. Shawne wasn't going to overpower you with his athleticism, it was skill level, and I think Angel will be able to do the same for us."

Garcia still has not qualified academically, mainly because he was behind in his classwork when he moved to East Chicago, Ill., from his native Puerto Rico. But Calipari said he was optimistic about Garcia's progress.

"He'll be fine," Calipari said. "At the end of the day, he'll be fine."

Assuming Garcia becomes eligible, he'll be a major addition to the Tigers next season, regardless of which players off the current roster might leave early to test the NBA. Though he's "a legit 6-foot-11, 6-111/2 ," according to assistant coach Chuck Martin, Garcia is highly skilled and should fit well into the Tigers' driving motion offense. ranks Garcia as the 27th best player in the class of 2008, while ranks him 36th.

Garcia visited Memphis in June for Calipari's elite summer camp, then left to join the Puerto Rican national team rather than play AAU basketball.

Martin, who is of Puerto Rican descent, did much of the recruiting work on Garcia, traveling to Serbia to watch him play in the under-19 world championships. Garcia committed to the Tigers on Sept.1, selecting Memphis over Indiana.

Though Garcia is primarily a wing, Martin said he believes Garcia will help the Tigers in the post next season, where they will need a replacement for senior Joey Dorsey.

"I think when he gets to college, he's going to gain 15 pounds of muscle, and I think he's crafty enough and clever enough to play in the post," Martin said. "I don't know if you're going to use him for 40 minutes in the post, but he's much better than people give him credit for because he's so skilled and talented on the perimeter."

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