Virginia scored a major recruiting coup Wednesday when Thomas ``Junior' Burrough, a 6-foot-8 forward from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., announced he will sign with the Cavaliers during the early signing period that begins Nov. 14.
Burrough, who played at West Charlotte last season before transferring to Oak Hill for his senior season, is the No. 14 rated player by recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons and is a major catch for first-year head coach Jeff Jones.It is also a major disappointment for Wake Forest and Kentucky. The Deacons had been in hot pursuit of Burrough for some time and probably put in more time and effort in trying to sign him. Kentucky made a late run and it was rumored early in the week that Burrough would commit to Rick Pitino's program, but the Wildcats took 6-9 Andre Riddick of Brooklyn, N.Y. instead.
Burrough notified his coach, Steve Smith, that he wanted to go to Virginia Tuesday night.
Burrough averaged 25 points and 15 rebounds last season at West Charlotte. He was very impressive during the Junior AAU National Tournament in Jonesboro, Ark., last summer. According to Smith, Burrough has jump shooting range to 16 feet, but is at his best in the lane or filling the lane on the break.
Burrough has not made 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, but according to sources, is ``very close.' During the first academic quarter at Oak Hill he made three As, two Bs and a C.
Burrough is the second commitment for the Cavaliers. Jason Williford, a 6-6 guard from Richmond who is also rated among the nation's top 50 players, picked the Cavaliers more than a month ago.
Sources indicate that Virginia could be on the verge of an outstanding recruiting year, with the next possible commitment coming from 6-2 guard Cory Alexander, also of Oak Hill Academy. Alexander, who averaged 19 points, five rebounds and six assists last year, is said to be an excellent shooter and floor leader. He has been considering Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Things may have taken a turn in Virginia's favor Wednesday when Travis Best, a 5-11 guard from Springfield, Mass., committed to Georgia Tech. Coach Bobby Cremins has been pursuing several of the nation's top point guards thinking that Kenny Anderson will opt for the NBA after this season.
Best, rated among the nation's top 20 prospects, averaged 20 points, nine assists and five steals last season. He is the first player to commit to Tech, but the Jackets are also expected to get 6-7, 240-pound James Forrest, a top 20 prospect from Atlanta.
The Cavaliers remain in the running for 6-9 forward Andrew DeClercq of Clearwater, Fla., 6-9 Chris Alexander of Long Branch, N.J., and 6-10 Nantambu Willingham of Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Duke remains in pursuit of a big man to go along with 6-11 Cherokee Parks, who committed two weeks ago. The Blue Devils' major targets are 6-11 Erik Meek of San Pasqual High School in Escondido, Calif., and 6-8 Alan Henderson of Brebeuf Prep in Indianapolis.
Henderson, Gibbons' No. 17-rated prospect, was in Cameron Indoor Stadium last Saturday, when Duke defeated the Soviet National Team and was reportedly very impressed. He is friends with Parks who is considered the top center prospect in the class of '91. Parks called Henderson in hopes of getting him to commit to the Blue Devils.
Henderson canceled a visit to Northwestern, but still plans to visit Purdue Nov. 17. The early signing period ends Nov. 21. In addition to Duke and Purdue, Henderson is considering Stanford and Indiana. The Hoosiers may be the leaders.
Meek, a 240-pounder, averaged 29 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots last season. While not considered as skilled as Parks, Meek is described as a battler inside. According to his coach, Tom Buck, Meek has not been scared away from Duke by the commitment of Parks.
``He's still very interested,' Buck said, ``and Duke is still very interested in him. I think the pressure is getting to him, and I expect him to make a decision during the early signing period.'
Meek will visit Duke this weekend. He has already visited Stanford, Vanderbilt and Kansas. He canceled a visit to Washington.
N.C. State will get visits this weekend from 6-3 second guard Robin James of Oradell, N.J., and 6-7 forward Victor Newman of Dothan, Ala. The Pack is also in the running for 6-foot point guard Curtis Marshall of Omaha, Neb.
In addition to losing Burrough, Wake Forest also got bad news from a couple of other prospects. Chip Hare, a 6-9 center from Massilon, Ohio, committed to Dayton. Malik Evans, a 6-7 forward from Sugarland, Texas, committed to Vanderbilt, along with 6-10 center Chris Charles of St. Charles, Mo.
The Deacons, along with North Carolina, are chasing 6-3 guard Donald Williams of Garner, the top player in the state. Williams, who averaged 29 points, five rebounds and four assists in making the all-state team last season, is considered one of the nation's top 20 prospects. He will visit North Carolina this weekend and is the only known prospect the Tar Heels are chasing.
Other commitments to ACC schools include: Sharone Wright, 6-10 center from Macon, Ga., to Clemson; and Johnny Rhodes, 6-4 guard from Washington, D.C., and Wayne Bristol, 6-2 guard from Beltsville, Md., to Maryland.
Brian Frazier, a 6-2 shooting guard from Roanoke Rapids, and Kyle Hupfer, a 6-7 forward from Indiana, committed to UNC Greensboro. Frazier, an honorable mention all-state selection, averaged 23 points last season. Hupfer impressed the UNCG staff during summer camps.
Sean Hope, a 6-8 center from Graham, announced for Fordham, disappointing UNC Charlotte.