Men's Basketball Signs Jesus Verdejo to National Letter-of-Intent

April 14, 2004

TUCSON, Ariz. - University of Arizona men's basketball coach Lute Olson announced Wednesday that Jesus Verdejo has signed a National Letter-of-Intent to attend the school and play basketball. Verdejo will report to the school in the fall of 2004.

Verdejo, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard/forward from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is ranked as the No. 23 overall prep school prospect by hoopscooponline.com. Verdejo, who attended The Winchendon School in Winchendon, Mass., this season, averaged 22.9 points per game in helping the squad to a 32-5 record and New England Preparatory School Athletic Council championship. He is a solid outside shooter with a strong midrange game who should be in the mix at one of the UA's perimeter positions. Verdejo is also a member of the Puerto Rican junior national team.

'We're excited to get a player of Jesus' caliber at this point of the recruiting season,' said 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.'

Verdejo prepped at Christian High School in Miami, Fla., and averaged 28.0 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game as a senior in 2002-03. As a junior in 2001-02, Christian posted a 37-2 record, won the Florida 1A state championship and was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally by USA Today. In earning Florida Sports Writers all-tournament honors during the championship run, Verdejo combined for 40 points on 17-of-26 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, and added seven rebounds, five assists and five steals in the state semifinal and championship game victories. He finished his career as Christian's all-time leading scorer, amassing 2,152 career points in just two seasons.

'Jesus is a big time scorer who will bring instant toughness to our team,' said Josh Pastner, 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.'

Arizona signed Daniel Dillon, Jawann McClellan and Mohamed Tangara during the November early signing period. The Wildcats finished 2003-04 with a 20-10 record (11-7 Pac-10) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 20th consecutive season. Currently, the Wildcats are scheduled to return nine of 12 letterwinners in 2004-05.

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