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COLLEGE HOOPS SIGNING ROUNDUP: UGA lands Greenville standout Caldwell-Pope, other stars on busy early signing day

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ATHENS ---- University of Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox announced Wednesday the signing of three prospective student-athletes -- two high schoolers and one junior-college transfer -- to national letters-of-intent to attend Georgia and play for the Bulldogs next season: Tim Dixon of Columbus, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Greenville, and John Florveus of Fort Myers, Fla.

Dixon, a 6-foot-10, 215-pound forward, is currently starting his senior season at Oldsmar Christian School in Oldsmar, Fla. He transferred to Oldsmar after starring for three seasons at Kendrick High School in Columbus. Dixon averaged 16.1 points, 11 rebounds and 6.4 blocks per game as a junior in 2010 for the Cherokees.

"We're very excited to have signed Tim and we think he has a bright future ahead of him," said Fox. "He's got great length and athleticism with a good, sound set of offensive skills."

Caldwell-Pope, whose Greenville team was beaten in a now-legendary game against Terrell County in the GHSA Class A Sweet 16 last year, 76-75, is beginning his senior season at Greenville, where he has built a reputation as one of the nation's top backcourt scorers. Last season the 6-6, 185-pound guard averaged 29.7 points per game in leading the Patriots to a 20-7 record. He is rated as the third-best shooting guard in the country, 11th-best prospect overall by Rivals.com recruiting analysis.

"Kentavious has a terrific future ahead of him," Fox said. "We're really

excited about his ability to score from the perimeter. It's easy to see by

his ability and his skills that he's been very well-coached."

Florveus, a 7-0, 215-pound center, is a sophomore at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla. He played at Dunbar High School in Fort Myers before heading to Hillsborough. As a freshman last season, he averaged 4.0 points and 3.5 rebounds, and also 2.5 blocks per game, which ranked him 24th nationally in junior-college statistics.

"John is a long, athletic player who is really quick on his feet and he runs the floor extremely well," Fox said. "We're excited about adding a player of his size and potential. Two of our needs that we wanted to address with this class were length and scoring ability. We feel like we've certainly addressed those needs well with two long, athletic players in Tim Dixon and John Florveus, and we also added a great shooter who can score from the perimeter in Kentavious. We believe they will all fit our system very well. All three of these young men come from great families and we're looking forward to having them join

our program."

The early national signing period began Wednesday and concludes next

Wednesday.

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UGA WOMEN LAND ALPHARETTA FORD:

Erika Ford, a 5-9 guard from Chattahoochee High School in Alpharetta, Ga., has inked a letter-of-intent to play basketball collegiately for the Georgia Lady Bulldogs, head coach Andy Landers announced on Wednesday.

Ford, a three-year starter at Chattahoochee, has been rated as the nation's No. 55 overall prospect and the No. 8 guard by the All Star Girls Report.

"Erika is someone who has been our our radar for quite some time," Landers said. "We're extremely please that she is going to be part of our basketball program. Erika has terrific athleticism, great quickness and tremendous defensive abilities, along with an aggressive slashing offensive game."

Ford was named all-state for Class AAAAA as both a sophomore and a junior.

She topped 1,000 career points as a sophomore and helped Chattahoochee's volleyball team to a runner-up finish in the Class AAAA state tournament.

"Erika is a great kid," Chattahoochee coach Eric Herrick said. "She's a

fun-loving kid who is always a pleasure to be around. On the basketball

court, she's a tremendous athlete with an even better work ethic. She has the competitive fire that every coach wants to have on their team. She's a leader not only in games but in practice every day. She sets the tone with her effort and she's a vocal leader as well. She makes sure that our team runs the way it's supposed to run and she's played a major role in the turnaround of our program at Chattahoochee High School."

After winning just five games in 2006-07, the Cougars won the Region 7AAAAA Championship and reached the Sweet 16 round of the state tournament during Ford's freshman season. Chattahoochee also has advanced to each of the past two state tournaments.

"As a freshman, Erika led us to the Region Championship and the Sweet 16 of the state tournament, and she was Region Player of the Year," Herrick said. "She's had that kind of impact throughout her career here."

Georgia has long been one of the nation's premier women's basketball

programs. The Lady Bulldogs rank No. 2 nationally in both weeks ranked by the Associated Press and NCAA Tournament appearances.

The 2010-11 edition of the Lady Bulldogs has been ranked No. 19 in

pre-season Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. Georgia opens the season this Sunday by hosting Georgia Southern at historic Stegeman Coliseum at 2 p.m.

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PITINO HAS SUPER-STRONG EARLY SIGNING CLASS:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville has signed forward Chane Behanan, guard Wayne Blackshear and center Zach Price as part of a recruiting class coach Rick Pitino believes will return the Cardinals to prominence in the Big East.

Behanan averaged 21.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists at Bowling Green (Ky.) High last year, including nine tripled-doubles. Pitino said Behanan's size and explosiveness remind him of former Louisville star Rodney McCray.

The 6-foot-5 Blackshear averaged 29.2 points and 14.2 rebounds as a junior at Morgan Park High in Chicago. Pitino praised Blackshear's toughness and potential.

The 6-10 Price is more of a project at center, though Pitino believes he could develop into a solid low-post presence.

The Cardinals plan to announce at least one more signing before the period ends.

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CALIPARI LANDS MORE STARS:

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky coach John Calipari has landed another top-rated recruiting class.

The Wildcats signed guard Marquis Teague, forwards Michael Gilchrist, Kyle Wiltjer and Anthony Davis on Wednesday, the beginning of the fall signing period.

"They all have an unbelievable attitude about winning," Calipari said in a statement. "They all wanted to play together knowing they're going to have to sacrifice a little bit of their game for their teammates."

The 6-foot-2 Teague, who also considered Louisville, averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists as a junior at Pike High in Indianapolis, Ind. He and Gilchrist helped Team USA to the gold medal in the FIBA U17 World Championships.

"Marquis is not just quick, but quick with the ball," Calipari said. "He also has an unbelievably fierce desire to win. He played on the U17 team with Michael, and when they stepped into the game together, games changed."

The 6-7 Gilchrist averaged 16.4 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks last season while playing for St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J. He was rated the No. 1 forward in the country by both Rivals.com and Scout.com.

"When you look up the definition of 'warrior' in the dictionary, there is a picture of Michael there," said Calipari. "No one plays harder or is more competitive. He has a tremendous burning desire to win."

Wiltjer led Jesuit High in Portland, Ore., to back-to-back Class 6A titles while Davis averaged 30 points and 12 rebounds a game last year for Perspectives Charter in Chicago.

Calipari said the 6-9 Wiltjer and the 6-10 Davis give the team the size it needed.

"With this group, it adds to what we already have within our program," Calipari said. "These are four of the best, which is what we want to recruit here."