Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy hired veteran assistant Sergio Rouco for a number of reasons, not the least of which was Rouco's ability to recruit internationally.
Rouco, head coach at FIU for eight seasons, was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Fla. His most recent head coaching job was in Venezuela in 2010, where he led the Marinos de Anzoategui.
Tuesday, Rouco's international reach paid off.
Ole Miss secured a commitment from Venezuela native Anthony Perez Cortesia, a 6-foot-9 forward, Tuesday morning. Cortesia, currently playing for Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla., visited Ole Miss over the weekend.
"He went to the campus this weekend and thought it was a beautiful school; really enjoyed the football game and the student body," his coach, Kevin Boyle, said. "He really took to coach Kennedy, and I think Sergio with Spanish-Cuban background, speaking the language, they really connected and hit it off. It went very well."
Boyle described Cortesia as "more of a small forward" and an "outstanding 3-point shooter." However, Boyle said Cortesia needs to turn it up on the defensive end, which Boyle feels he is capable of doing.
"He has a chance to be an outstanding SEC player, and eventually end up in the NBA," Boyle said.
Cortesia, rated a three-star prospect by Scout.com, is a member of the recruiting class of 2012. He decided against participating in the AAU circuit. Kansas State, Providence and Wake Forest were among the other schools involved in his recruitment.
"Unfortunately, I haven't seen much of him, but I did see him at the National Prep Showcase last year," Evan Daniels, National Basketball Recruiting Analyst for Scout.com, said. "What I saw was a 6-8, long, lanky but mobile forward. He appeared to have a pretty good skill-set, and his shot looked pretty good. I liked his potential."
Boyle has overseen a number of talented players in his years in coaching, including Kyrie Irving, selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Boyle said Cortesia has the potential to be as good a player at the next level as any player he has coached, though the responsibility ultimately falls on Cortesia.
"It's so hard to say. I haven't seen him enough in games. Offensive skill-wise, as in putting the ball on the floor and being able to shoot the ball, there's probably not four, five kids in the country that are over 6-7 and have better skill, especially when you consider the fact he's an outstanding 3-point shooter," Boyle said.
"His game's really going to translate as he moves up in college and beyond that possibly, because of his ability to really stretch a defense from deep and get space between the post and the perimeter. If he works his (butt) off, I think he has a chance to really make some noise and be an outstanding player."
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