It's official: Jesus on his way to Wildcats

By From staff and wire reports
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 15, 2004

Men's hoops inks recruit Verdejo

Incoming recruit Jesus Verdejo has signed his National Letter-of-Intent to play basketball at the UA, the athletics department announced yesterday.

Verdejo, a native of Puerto Rico, will report in the fall.

"We're excited to get a player of Jesus' caliber at this point of the recruiting season," said head coach Lute Olson. "He is a proven winner with the ability to play a couple of positions for us. Jesus will definitely make our perimeter positions that much stronger."

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard/forward attended The Winchendon School, a prep school in Winchendon, Mass., averaging 22.9 points per game while leading his team to a 32-5 record. He also plays for the Puerto Rican junior national team.

Verdejo joins McDonald's All-American Jawaan McClellan, Daniel Dillon and Mohamed Tangara in Arizona's incoming recruiting class. Arizona is also expected to return nine of its 12 letterwinners from last season after seniors Fil Torres and Jason Ranne exhausted their eligibility and sophomore Andre Iguodala declared for the NBA draft.

"Jesus is a big-time scorer who will bring instant toughness to our team," said Josh Pastner, a UA assistant coach and Verdejo's lead recruiter. "He is the ultimate competitor, a guy who competes every second he is on the court, whether it's practice or a live game."

Fittingly, the man named Jesus played at Christian High School in Miami prior to attending prep school. He averaged 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his final year. He is the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,152 points in his two seasons.

Verdejo originally committed to play at Temple out of high school, but chose to attend prep school after failing to qualify academically.