Louisville has struck again.
Miami (Fla.) Pace forward Rakeem Buckles verbally committed to the Big East school on Monday. He is the second player in less than a week to give a nod to Rick Pitino and his staff.
The 6-foot-8 junior visited Louisville in December and most recently with his parents for the Georgetown game earlier in the month. The visit helped solidified Buckles decision, Miami Pace head coach Mark Lieberman said.
"When we went up there, he just loved everything about it," Lieberman said. "The atmosphere was fantastic and a coach like coach Pitino was something he was excited about. Their style of play and the chance to play in that type of conference and win was big. The chance to develop and get better was big. All of those factors came into play."
Buckles, a likely top 100 prospect in the next set of Rivals.com rankings, joins shooter Mike Marra in the 2009 recruiting class. Marra committed last Thursday.
Buckles is a long and athletic forward with great upside and the potential of improving under the umbrella of Rick Pitino was intriguing.
"His ceiling is really high," Lieberman said. "He hasn't really tapped into all of his tools yet. The first couple of years with us, he was a post player. Now he's able to step out, face up and do things from the perimeter. He has to continue to develop his passion but he has a good basketball IQ. He has another year and a half and a great career ahead of him at Louisville."
Miami Pace (21-9), last year's Florida state champions, plays in the state semi-finals on Thursday against Pensacola Washington in Lakeland. Buckles scored 25 points in the quarterfinals. Buckles will suit up with the Florida Rams next month on the AAU circuit.