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Elite Eight Sign Letters of Intent to UVA Hoops

UVA BasketballThe men's and women's basketball rpograms racked up eight national letters of intent this week. Five, together ranked 11th on Rivals and 14th on Scout, will be joining the men's team, while three come together to form the No. 19 by Blue Star Report and No. 20 by All Star Girls Report recruiting class for the women's. Read the two Virginia press releases after the jump. Congratulations and welcome, Wahoos!

Women's Basketball

Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan announced the signing of Ataira Franklin, Jazmin Pitts and Kelsey Wolfe to National Letters of Intent to play for the Cavaliers beginning in 2010. Collectively, the class has been tabbed among the top 20 in the nation.

Ataira Franklin (Bowie, Md.), a 5-10 shooting guard out of Riverdale Baptist High School, was a All-Metro selection by The Washington Post and an all-county selection by the Prince Georges Gazette in 2008. Also in 2008, Franklin was the Offensive MVP and the Most Outstanding Player of the NACA National Tournament. She earned NACA High School All-American honors in 2007. Franklin plays for the Boo Williams Elite on the AAU level.

"Ataira Franklin is an extremely hard working wing who can play off the bounce, defend the best player on the opposing team and hit the pull up jumper in the lane under pressure," Ryan said. "She is an intelligent player who has a very high basketball I.Q. Ataira is the best student in her class. Her dedication to Virginia is obvious in her ability to attract others to our team. She is a selfless player who will also provide great leadership in the future."

Jazmin Pitts (Moseley, Va.), a 6-1 forward out of Cosby High School, was the 2009 Richmond Times-Dispatch and All-Metro Player of the Year. A first team All-Metro selection as a sophomore and junior, Pitts and Cosby advanced to the Virginia state Group AAA semifinals in 2009. That year, she averaged 16.3 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. For her career, Pitts has more than 750 rebounds and is in position to pass the 1,500-career points mark. Pitts plays for Boo Williams Elite on the AAU level.

"Jaz committed a long time ago and her passion for Virginia is evident in everything that she does," Ryan said. "She is a powerful small forward who can score and run the floor like a guard. She has tremendous strength and is very agile. We feel she has the chance to be a prolific rebounder at Virginia. She is dedicated to becoming the best she can be both on the floor and in the classroom. We are proud to have Jazmin as a Cavalier."

Kelsey Wolfe (Germantown, Md.), a 5-9 guard out of Seneca Valley High School, averaged more than 20 points per game en route to first team All-Gazette honors. The county's leading scorer in 2009, Wolfe scored her 1000th-career point as a junior. Wolfe plays for the Fairfax Stars on the AAU level.

"Kelsey Wolfe is a powerful guard with an excellent basketball I.Q.," Ryan said. "What sets Kelsey apart is her extraordinary ability to shoot the ball under pressure and her unique ability to hit game winning shots. Kelsey is a tough player who will not be outworked and she brings an intensity to the game that is outstanding. An exceptional student, Kelsey is a great fit for Virginia and our team. Her commitment to Virginia is evidenced by her perseverance and loyalty."

The Cavaliers' class is ranked No. 19 by Blue Star Report and No. 20 by All Star Girls Report.

Men's Basketball

Virginia men’s head basketball coach Tony Bennett has announced the signing of five players to national letters of intent with the Cavaliers during the early signing period. The players are 6-4 guard K.T. Harrell of Montgomery, Ala.; 6-6 guard Joe Harris from Chelan, Wash.; 6-9 forward James Johnson of Wildomar, Calif.; 6-7 wing Akil Mitchell of Charlotte, N.C.; and 6-8 forward Will Regan of Williamsville, N.Y. currently ranks Virginia’s recruiting class 11th and ranks it 14th nationally.

"Obviously this is a very important recruiting class because it’s the first for our staff at Virginia," Bennett said. "I think the goal to bring in a wide range of players in terms of playing positions and a group that complements each other has been accomplished. We want to take the foundation that’s in place here already with the current players and enhance it with this group of five young men.

"As a group they all embody and represent what the University of Virginia stands for and they are excited to be a part of returning Virginia basketball to prominence. Each of them is also looking forward to the academic opportunity that the University presents. They are coming to Virginia for the right reasons."

Harrell did not play high school basketball last season after transferring to Brewbaker Tech Magnet High School in Montgomery. and rank him as a Top 100 recruit.

Harris averaged 25.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists a game as a junior at Chelan High School last season, was the Class 1A Player of the Year in the state of Washington and an All-State selection. He averaged 22 points a game as a sophomore and was the Caribou Trail League Player of the Year each of the last two seasons.

Johnson did not play high school basketball last season after moving from Canada to California. and rank him as a Top 100 recruit.

Mitchell averaged seven points and five rebounds a game at Charlotte Christian School last season on a team that featured three players now playing Division I basketball at the collegiate level. He also played for Charlotte Christian School as a sophomore during the 2007-08 season.

Regan averaged 23.9 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocked shots a game as a junior last season at the Nichols School and was named the Buffalo News Player of the Year. As a sophomore he averaged 18.7 points, 14.3 rebounds and four blocked shots a game. Regan was the first sophomore in 14 years to be named to the All-Western New York first team and earned that honor again last season.