Nation's No. 3 Junior Commits To Point Guard U.

Brandon Jennings will play for Lute Olson at Arizona

May 22, 2007

By Van Coleman &


Van Coleman

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The talented 6-foot-2, Oak Hill point guard Brandon Jennings shined at the Arizona Cactus Classic over the weekend.


He liked it so much that he's decided to spend his college days in Tucson playing for Lute Olson at Arizona.

 caught up with Brandon Jennings and his mom, Alice Knox, this afternoon, and they confirmed that Brandon, our No. 3-rated junior has committed to play his college ball at Point Guard U.


"We were really impressed with the campus, staff and their approach to things," Knox said. "I was really overwhelmed with the academic help they provide. I want to make sure that Brandon is well taken care of, because the basketball will take care of itself."


Brandon's coach at Oak Hill, Steve Smith, agreed and said that Jennings really was sold on the academic situation at Arizona.


"I was surprised he made his commitment this soon," Smith said this afternoon. "I was expecting him to decide this summer some time. But when Brandon told me, `Coach, this is a place I can get it done academically whether I'm here one or four years,' I knew he really felt he fit in."


It didn't hurt that NBA pros like Damon Stoudamire were back on campus going to class working toward their degrees.


"It was amazing seeing a pro like Stoudamire going to class this summer," Knox explained. "That really hit home with Brandon and me. That NBA players come back to Arizona to finish their degree made me very comfortable with Brandon's future there."


Jennings told us that he just had that special feeling when he got to really see the Arizona campus and had a chance to get to know the coaches and players.


"I had a chance to really see things on my visit on Monday, I got to play with the guys and their cool," Jennings continued. "I met with Coach Olson and the staff, and they made me feel that I was more than just a player in their program, that I would be a person. But it was the AD, the academic advisor and other people I met on the visit and over the weekend that sold me on Arizona being the right place to further my career academically and in basketball. I knew I would have the right support group to succeed there."


Jennings will have the opportunity to be an impact talent for the Wildcats and could become one of the best to ever play at Arizona, but he knows that the `Cats have some big shoes for him to fill.


"When you look at the top guards who've been here, guys like Gilbert Arenas, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, and Damon [Stoudamire], I'll have a lot to live up to," Jennings explained.  But what really impressed me about the program is how well they prepared those players to be successes in life and the NBA."


But academics and getting his game ready for the NBA wasn't the only reason Jennings chose to head to Arizona.


"It's closer to home than some of the programs, like Connecticut and others," Jennings said. "Sometimes things get tough, or aren't working like you'd like, so its great to be close to family. Arizona is close to home. My family can be there for me if they're needed. That's really important to me."


He chose Arizona over interest from USC (his original choice), Connecticut, Kentucky and Kansas.


The gifted point has all kinds of tools to ascend to the highest level of the game, and according to Smith, he's one of the best he's had at the perennial national championship contender.


"All-time he's right up there with the best, and he has another year with us," Smith explained. "He carried us at times this year and led us to a 40-1 record (USA Today National Champions). He hit big shots in North Carolina and versus American Christian that gave us the chance to win. He was really good this year, but I'm going to expect more from him next year."


"In many ways he has a little Kenny Anderson and a little Nate Archibald in him," Smith continued. "It's hard to compare him to them, but he has their style and mental outlook to the game. He has a chance to be very special."


"Yeah, I heard that thing about Kenny Anderson before, that I remind people of him," Jennings added. "I didn't see him play, but I do have a video of him. He was really great.  I hope I can reach his level in the future."


If I get as much out of my time under Coach Olson as Arenas, Bibby and those guys, maybe I can be mentioned with guys like Anderson, but that's in the future."


Is there anything you'd like to tell the Wildcat fans in Tucson? Something you want to let them know?


"Yeah, I want them to buy their tickets now, cause I want to be part of putting them in the big show and head back to the Final Four. I think we'll have the squad to do that."


Lofty goals for a young talent who many feel will only play one or two years in college.


But if there's one thing for sure, Olson's Wildcats won't lack floor leadership while Jennings is in Tucson.