Clearwater star caps top class for 'Noles

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 15, 2007

A week ago, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton seemed to be on the hot seat.

Now, he just seems hot.

Hamilton landed another top recruiting class Wednesday, headlined by forward Chris Singleton from Dunwoody (Ga.). High and Clearwater High guard Luke Loucks.

The Seminoles also added 6-10 forward Xavier Gibson from Dothan, Ala., and point guard Pierre Jordan from Dunwoody on the first day of the early signing period. Hoop Scoop online publisher Clark Francis said that group, including sharpshooting guard Deividas Dulkys (Nevada), who has orally committed, is the nation's ninth best; Dave Tellup from Scout.com has it No. 13.

"Coach Hamilton does just a great job of attracting Top 100 prospects," Tellup said.

The 6-8 Singleton, a versatile threat on the wing who figures to create the same matchup headaches that Al Thornton did, is the centerpiece. He was down to FSU and tradition-rich Kentucky.

"With what they have coming back, they need an athletic (small) forward," Francis said, "and he's a great catch for them."

Loucks is another key with the Seminoles losing three senior guards after this season and perhaps a fourth if Toney Douglas bolts early for the NBA. The 6-4 Loucks, like Singleton and Gibson, is rated as a high honorable mention All-American in the preseason basketball issue of the Sporting News.

"It's pretty amazing what Coach Hamilton and his staff have pulled off," Loucks said. "It is definitely exciting."

"We are very, very happy to welcome this group of young men into our program," Hamilton said.

USF: The only player scheduled to sign on the men's side was Eladio Espinosa, a 6-8 forward from Norlina, N.C., currently playing at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. For the women, twin guards Andrea and Andrell Smith of Lakeland Lake Gibson signed, and guard Tawatha Tucker of Fayetteville, N.C., was expected to sign.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.