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Marquis Teague's decision is to play basketball at the University of Kentucky

Associated Press

Teague, ranked as the No.2 player in the Class of 2011 by Rivals.com, can't sign a letter of intent until November.

INDIANAPOLIS — Marquis Teague said he was ready to commit to the University of Louisville at least twice during a two-year recruitment by the Cardinals.

But when Teague, a standout junior basketball prospect from Indianapolis Pike High School, made his announcement on Thursday afternoon, the 6-foot-2 point guard put on a University of Kentucky hat.

Calipari‘s track record with top guards made a critical difference.

“He’s coached guards real well,” Teague said in announcing his college choice in an administrative meeting room at Pike High School. “I want to be a great guard. . . . I feel he’s the best coach for me.”

Teague’s announcement gives Kentucky commitments from the players rated by Rivals.com as the top two in the class of 2011. Teague, who is No. 2, joins New Jersey forward Michael Gilchrist, the No. 1 prospect, who committed to Calipari last week.

When asked how he thought he and Gilchrist would fare together, Teague said, “I think we can do some great things at Kentucky, have a nice dynasty.”

Calipari had sought to get a commitment from the best available point guard for a fifth straight year. He had signed, in order, Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Brandon Knight in the last four recruiting years.

That history made a winning impression on two influential people in Teague’s life: his mother, Carol, and his older brother, former Wake Forest star Jeff Teague.

“He told me from the get-go, when he heard that Kentucky offered me, that’s where he wanted me to go,” Teague said of his brother. “Coach Cal will allow me to play my game and not hold me back.”

His brother, now playing for the Atlanta Hawks, held considerable influence.

“His opinion means everything to me,” Teague said. “I never really tell him this stuff, but I listen to my brother.”

Teague also noted the importance of his mother’s approval.

“My mother really enjoys him (Calipari),” the player said. “If my mom enjoys you, that’s the biggest (endorsement). She’s my heart. If she likes you, then I like you.”

Carol Teague said that Calipari did not charm her. He won her over for purely basketball reasons.

“I like his style of play,” she said. “I just feel it’s Marquis’ style of play.”

In a delicious twist to this UK-U of L recruiting battle, the Cardinals’ coach, Rick Pitino, coached Teague’s father at Boston University. So the Teague family had close ties with Pitino, who staged a two-year recruiting effort for Marquis.

Ultimately, Teague and his family felt Calipari was the best of two good choices.

“I’ve watched a lot of basketball,” Carol Teague said. “I know the way Marquis plays. And the guards I’ve seen (Calipari) coach, it kind of fits Marquis more.

“Marquis is a guy, he has to kind of have the ball in his hands and you kind of let him go. He can create.”

Recruiting analysts generally consider Teague as the best point guard in the high school class of 2011.

“Definitely,” said Jerry Meyer, an analyst for Rivals.com. “He’s working himself into the same category of the other great point guards: Rose, Wall.”

Meyer likened Teague to Rose or Wall in terms of ballhandling, speed, court vision and ability to finish plays at the basket.

“And he’s a pretty good jump shooter,” the Rivals.com analyst said.

Teague, whose brother Jeff starred for Wake Forest before leaving for the NBA as an underclassman, rates ahead of his older sibling, according to analyst Brick Oettinger of the Prep Stars recruiting service.

“Jeff was very good,” Oettinger said before adding of Marquis, “Whenever he goes, you have to like him.”

Teague, who will be a senior at Pike High next season, reminded Meyer of another former Wake Forest point guard, Chris Paul.

“He’s that size,” Meyer said. “He takes contact. He’s a great — I mean tremendous — ball-handler. And he has a tremendous burst to the basket.”

The possibility of a recruiting class headed by Gilchrist and Teague had recruiting analysts reaching for flowery tributes to throw at Kentucky.

“Well, that’d be a pretty good start when you start with the No. 1 (Gilchrist) and No. 2 (Teague) players in the class,” Meyer said. “That would only drive more top-flight talent to Kentucky.”

Added Oettinger with a laugh, “I’d say that’s going to be the best class in the country.”

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