The Houston Cougars landed two of their biggest prospects since the days of Phi Slama Jama when five-star SF Danuel House and four-star PF Danrad "Chicken" Knowles committed to the Cougars on Sunday night.
"I choose Houston because Coach [James] Dickey made me think long and hard about staying home and playing in front of my family and friends," House said. " I feel that will be an honor and a privilege to do that.
"I want to help bring back Houston basketball where it needs to be nationally," said House, who chose the Cougars over Georgetown, Baylor, Texas, Kansas, Ohio State and other top programs.
It's been a long journey for House, who is No. 15 in the ESPNU 100 and the No. 3 small forward. Back when Marland Lowe, the AAU coach of Texas Pro, called college coaches last year about House, everyone listened but only a few followed up on the call. Houston assistant Ulric Maligi was one of the few and it paid off as the Cougars landed their biggest prospect in recent memory.
"When I would call college coaches, they were all ears, but it would be hard for them to make him a priority to go see as he was not a national name and most had not even heard of him," Lowe said. "They had others on there radar and rightly so. I just knew Daniel would be special."
It wasn't until halfway through his junior season that House, 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, landed his first offer -- from Houston. But he slowly continued to impress on the camp and AAU circuit. Soon programs like Louisville, Georgia Tech, Missouri, USC, Cal were coming in hard after him. Because of the current NCAA rules on the evaluation period college coaches could not see him play in a competitive environment until July.
But when the July evaluation period began, Houston and Baylor were following his every move, while others were still in the wait-and-see mode. He played well in every tournament, backing up Lowe's assessment. His defining moment came on July 26 in the AAU Super Showcase as he led Texas Pro to an overtime victory with 25 points against a talented and tough Georgia Stars team. That performance solidified his stature among the nations best.
Shortly after that the offers came pouring in, but House remained loyal to those he were after him early in the process.
One of the aspects that makes House so special is he can play in an up-and-down tempo or execute in the half court. He is a machine in the transition game with his athletic ability, length and body control. He reads his defender and the defense and then attacks, which displays his basketball IQ.
He is a big-time scorer who knocks down deep 3s ,cuts off of screens to score mid-range jumpers and has excellent body control to finish at the rim. House doesn't force shots to score his points, yet he understands as the game is on the line he must look more to score.
Knowles, 6-9 and 190 pounds, is No. 56 in the ESPNU 100 and the No. 15 power forward. He is a long and lean, but highly-skilled, face-up forward. He shoots the ball to the arc with consistency, handles in the open floor, and can even take the ball off the glass and start the break. He is as skilled of a player as you will find at his size.
Dickey vowed to make the state of Texas, and specifically the Houston area, a priority for the Cougars and by landing Sugarland (Texas) Hightower's House and Houston Homeschool Christian Youth's Knowles, he's definitely backing up his words.
"We want to bring success to the city of Houston again," Knowles said. " I picked Houston because I trust Coach Dickey and the coaching staff and they made me a priority. Everyone who I know and trust is here close to me."
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter. Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.