April 16, 2009
HOUSTON - The University of Houston men's basketball team signed three high school stars to National Letters of Intent during the spring signing period, head coach Tom Penders announced Thursday afternoon.
Guard Nick Haywood (Ouachita High, Monroe, La.), forward Kendrick Washington (Huntington High, Shreveport, La.) and forward Kirk Van Slyke (West Point Prep/College Park High, The Woodlands, Texas) will compete as freshmen and join a talented group of veterans during the 2009-10 season.
"The spring period is a month long, but we started off with a grand slam in the first inning," Penders said. "We got three kids that we wanted very badly. They fill a lot of different areas. Versatile is the right word to describe these three kids on the court, and, just as importantly, all three are outstanding students."
The class features the last two Louisiana Class 5A Players of the Year. Haywood received the award in 2008-09 after leading Ouachita (pronounced Wash-uh-taw) High to the state championship, while Washington was honored as a junior in 2007-08 after leading Huntington High to the Top 28, the first of back-to-back appearances.
"To get the Louisiana Class 5A Player of the Year for the last two seasons is a real coup for us," Penders said.
With three newcomers coming from the Texas-Louisiana area, the 2009-10 Cougar roster will feature six players from the state of Texas alone and nine from Texas and Louisiana.
Haywood joins the Cougars after an award-winning career at Ouachita High in Monroe, La. After averaging 19.3 points, 5.1 assists and 2.7 steals per game, he helped lead the Lions to the Class 5A state championship, the first basketball crown in school history.
The 6-foot, 165-pound guard scored 19 points against Hahnville High on the way to being named the Class 5A state championship game Most Valuable Player.
A cousin of former legendary player and current director of operations and performance enhancement Michael Young, Haywood also was a talented all-around student-athlete in high school. He capped his basketball career by being named Louisiana High School Athletic Association Academic All-State Honorable Mention with a cumulative 3.5 grade-point average.
"Nick is an extremely quick guard that can play the point or the No. 2," Penders said. "He is a very unselfish player who can push the ball but remains an exceptional defender."
KIRK VAN SLYKE
Van Slyke joins the Cougar program after spending the 2008-09 season at West Point Prep in New Jersey. He led or tied for the team lead in scoring in 15 of 23 games, including a season-high 37-point effort against Cayuga Community College.
Van Slyke prepped at College Park High in The Woodlands, where he was named to the All-District 15-5A First Team after averaging 17.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game as a senior.
"Kirk is one of the best 3-point shooters I've ever recruited," Penders said. "He can handle the ball and pass it, play inside and outside. He has a real edge to his game and is a tough player." With his family nearby, Van Slyke said the Cougar program would be a perfect fit for him.
"It's really close to home and all my family can watch me play," Van Slyke said after his signing. "It's a fast-paced offense, and I can run up and down the floor, so it should fit me well."
Washington brings an award-winning background to the Cougar program after a stellar career Shreveport's Huntington High. At 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds, he helped lead the Raiders to back-to-back appearances in the Top 28.
As a senior he averaged 19.4 points and 17.5 rebounds per game while being named to the Class 5A All-State First Team for the second straight season. In addition, he was recognized as the All-City Player of the Year.
"I don't think there's anybody like him in Conference USA. He is a great athlete with massive hands," Penders said. "In addition to his size, he can get up and down the floor and will give us a tremendous inside threat. He is tremendously skilled in handling and passing. Kendrick has an NFL and an NBA body."
After spending time with current Cougar players during his recruiting visit, Washington said he was sold on the UH program.
"I liked the players and how everyone got along," Washington said. "I felt like I was a fit to the program and could help them. Everybody is able to show their best abilities, and they play a fast-paced game."
Washington selected Houston over Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Marquette.
In 2008-09, the Cougars finished with a 21-12 overall record and advanced to the College Basketball Invitational for the second straight season. It was the program's fourth postseason appearance in the last five years.
UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON MEN'S BASKETBALL SIGNEES
Updated as of 3 p.m., April 16, 2009
Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl.-Exp. Hometown-High School (Last School)
Nick Haywood G 6-0 165 Fr.-HS Monroe, La.-Ouachita
Kirk Van Slyke F 6-9 215 Fr.-HS The Woodlands, Texas- College Park (West Point Prep)
Kendrick Washington F 6-7 270 Fr.-HS Shreveport, La.-Huntington
UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON MEN'S BASKETBALL SIGNEES BIOS
6-0 165 Freshman-HS
Monroe, La.-Ouachita High
ABOUT NICK HAYWOOD
Versatile athlete with an award-winning prep background... Point guard who can handle the ball but remains an offensive threat... Capable of playing point or at the No. 2 position... Pushes the ball up the court well and finds open teammates... Capable of scoring on the break and is a good penetrator... Talented student-athlete who is a leader on the court and in the classroom.
OUACHITA HIGH SCHOOL
Lettered for head coach Casey Jones... Talented all-around student-athlete who was named to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Academic All-State Honorable Mention with a cumulative 3.5 grade-point average. Senior (2008-09): Helped lead the Lions to the Class 5A state championship in Louisiana.... Class 5A Most Outstanding Player... Averaged 19.3 points, 5.1 assists and 2.7 steals per game... Honored as the Class 5A state championship game Most Valuable Player after scoring 19 points in win over Hahnville High... Was the first basketball state championship in school history... Named to All-District 2-5A First Team.. Junior (2007-08): Named to All-District 2-5A First Team, All-Northeast Louisiana Second Team and All-State Honorable Mention... Recognized as the Lions' Offensive Most Valuable Player.
Born Oct. 21, 1990... Cousin of former legendary player and current director of operations and performance enhancement Michael Young.
KIRK VAN SLYKE
6-9 215 Freshman-HS
The Woodlands, Texas-College Park (West Point Prep)
ABOUT KIRK VAN SLYKE
Shooter who will be an offensive weapon from the perimeter... Not afraid to work for offensive rebounds inside... Has a quick release and NBA range from the perimeter... Smart player who knows the game... Studied and played at West Point Prep a year ago and will benefit from that experience.
WEST POINT PREP (2008-09)
Lettered for head coach Cory Sinning... Member of Knights team that finished with an 8-15 record... Led or tied for the team lead in scoring in 15 games... Scored 29 points in a win against Queen City Prep... Recorded a season-high 37 points with 11 rebounds for his first double-double against Cayuga Community College... Finished with 35 points in an overtime loss to Edison Junior College... Helped lead the Black Knights into the championship game of the Blackburn Tournament with 28 points against Worcester Academy... Recorded 29 points in a loss to South Kent School and led the Knights with 29 points against Edison Junior College.
COLLEGE PARK HIGH SCHOOL
Lettered for head coach Clifton McNeely. Senior (2007-08): Named to All-District 15-5A First Team after averaging 17.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game...Scored 13 points with 10 rebounds against Oak Ridge High... Finished with 28 points and three 3-pointers against The Woodlands High.
Full name is Kirk Joseph Van Slyke... Born Sept. 7, 1989.
6-7 270 Freshman-HS
Shreveport, La.-Huntington HS
ABOUT KENDRICK WASHINGTON
One of the most dynamic players in the Ark-La-Tex... Also was an award-winning defensive end for the Huntington High football team... Possesses tremendous size but still runs the floor well.
HUNTINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
Lettered for head coach Mack Jones. Senior (2008-09): Earned place on the Class 5A All-State First Team after averaging 19.4 points and 17.5 rebounds per game... Named the All-City Player of the Year... Helped lead the Raiders to the Top 28 for the second straight season... Named an Athlete of the Week by KSLA for Dec. 10 after helping lead Huntington to an 11-0 start... Did not play football during his final prep season. Junior (2007-08): Honored as the Class 5A Most Outstanding Player to help lead the Raiders to the Top 28... Played for head coach Michael Green in football... Finished with 81 tackles, including 23 for a loss, 9.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.
Full name is Kendrick Montrez Washington... Chose Houston over Marquette, Arkansas and Oklahoma State... Born June 15, 1991.