When stud prospect Joe Young committed to the Houston Cougar basketball program under new head coach James Dickey, it could have been viewed as a fluke. He went to Yates High School across the street, his dad was a Cougar legend, and his unique personal situation made staying close to home a priority. He became the highest profile UH recruit in many years, even though he was forced to redshirt the 2010-11 season due to backing out on his Letter of Intent to Providence.
When TaShawn Thomas signed with the Coogs, it could have been viewed as merely good scouting. Thomas chose the Cougars in the early signing period, and by the time his monster senior season led ESPN to recognize him as one of the nation's top 100 prospects, it was too late for the big time programs to woo him.
The signing of Danuel House and Chicken Knowles, however, removes all doubt. Cougar head coach James Dickey and his staff can flat-out recruit.
Knowles is a big-time get in his own right. He's a lanky 6'9", but has skills rarely seen in a player his height. A little time in the weight room could turn him into an absolute monster. As is, he's a Rivals.com 4-star recruit, with reported offers from Arkansas, Baylor and Missouri.
But it's the signing of guard-forward House that has jaws dropping across the country. House is listed by both ESPN and Rivals as the #15 player in his high school class, at any position. His reported scholarship offers include (but are not limited to) such power programs as Arizona, Baylor, Georgetown, Kansas, and some school in Austin.
Both prospects would be eligible to play for Houston beginning in the 2012-13 season. Cougar fans will do well to keep their fingers crossed until the verbal commitments can be made official when the signing period opens on November 9th, but as it stands, there's no reason to doubt the commitment of House or Knowles.
Clearly, coach Dickey is playing the help-us-bring-Houston-back-to-the-Phi-Slamma-Jamma-days card to great effect. Sayeth House:
I want to help bring back Houston basketball where it needs to be nationally...I feel that will be an honor and a privilege to (play for Houston)
I don't know what's more impressive - Dickey bringing in these two potential stars given Houston's lackluster basketball facilities (which have an upgrade pending) and attendance, or Dickey bringing in these two potential stars coming off of a 12-18 season.
Speaking of which, if Dickey doesn't start winning games, the Clyde Drexler comparisons are going to start writing themselves. After a Hall of Fame career, Drexler returned to coach his alma mater, and did a great job in recruiting, but went just 19-39 in his two years on the bench. Dickey should certainly be given some leeway in the upcoming season with a young squad, but improvement upon last year's 4-12 conference record is a must.
But if Dickey and his staff can coach half as well as they can recruit, there are some exciting times in store.