The University of Texas scored a huge commitment late Thursday night, as five-star Fort Bend Bush High School 2012 standout Cameron Ridley gave a verbal commitment to the Longhorns.
Ridley, a 6-foot-10, 245-pound beast in the paint, chose Texas over several big-name schools, including Georgetown, North Carolina, and Kansas. UT assistant Rodney Terry spearheaded the recruiting process for the Longhorns and head coach Rick Barnes.
"I grew really attached to the coaches," said Ridley, who became the Longhorns' first pledge of the Class of 2012. "I like how they develop players and their style of play."
Ridley is ranked No. 3 in the state in the Class of 2012 by TexasHoops.com and No. 14 nationally by Rivals.com. All verbal commitments are nonbinding, and Ridley won't be able to sign a national letter of intent until November.
A true center, Ridley will give the Longhorns a presence they had similar to when Dexter Pittman was with the team. He is a big-body player who offers excellent defensive play but also can score on the block, as well as from 12-15 feet. Ridley currently is averaging 14.5 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks for Bush, the defending UIL Class 5A state champion.
Bush head coach Ronnie Courtney said Ridley made his decision based on how he felt around the UT coaching staff, as well as the campus' location. He will play roughly 2 1/2 hours away from his home just outside of Houston.
"They're going to get a kid with tremendous upside," Courtney said. "He wants to be the best he can be. They're going to get a well-rounded kid. Potentially, I think if he works, we can see him on TV someday playing for money."
That's a pretty bold compliment for a player who has only been playing organized basketball for roughly three years, but Ridley isn't your ordinary big man. He has a soft touch around the basket on offense, and defensively, he has excellent timing to record multiple blocked shots in a single possession.
Ridley played summer ball with the Houston Hoopstars and Keith White, a former college big man who has been assisting Ridley in becoming an all-everything center.
"He's a very skilled guy offensively, but we wanted to teach him to run the floor well, rebound and compete on the defensive end," White said. "The offense is going to be there, but the better he gets on defense, the more comfortable he becomes in being that 20-10 guy for [Texas]."
Ridley said he has learned a lot from both Courtney and White, and his mother, Sharon Rinehart, keeps him grounded. He was happy with making the decision, as he now can focus on helping Bush repeat as state champion.
"It takes a lot off. I think it was good for me to do it early," Ridley said of committing.
White said: "They're going to get a true five guy, a kid who will go out and compete. He will be very prepared. He's still young in basketball, but he's like a sponge. He learns things very quickly."
Damon Sayles is the Senior Writer for TexasHoops.com. Follow Damon and the TexasHoops.com staff on Twitter and on Facebook.