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Oregon power forward Josh Crittle commits to UCF

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The Knights have added one more big man to their roster.

Oregon power forward Josh Crittle told the Orlando Sentinel he is transferring to UCF.

Crittle, who is 6-foot-8 and played at Chicago's Hales Franciscan High before joining the Ducks, made an official visit to UCF during the weekend and committed to the Knights.

"I just committed last night," Crittle said Sunday afternoon. "Just from the way the coaches talked about my future, seeing the university, hanging with the guys and getting to know them, it all felt good. I knew I wanted to be at UCF."

He will sit out the upcoming 2010-11 season under NCAA transfer rules. Crittle has not redshirted and will have two more years of eligibility remaining, giving the Knights a boost after senior forward A.J. Tyler and senior Michigan State transfer center Tom Herzog graduate.

"While I'm sitting out, I can focus on getting better personally and just encouraging these guys," Crittle said.

He plans to enroll at UCF for either the second summer school session or the start of the fall semester.

Crittle was rated a three-star recruit coming out of high school by Rivals.com. He was ranked the No. 38th best center in the country by Rivals.com and the No. 27th best center by ESPN.com. Crittle had offers from Kansas State, Minnesota and Southern Illinois before ultimately choosing Oregon.

During his freshman year at Oregon in 2008-09, he appeared in 31 games and started four contests. He ranked second on the team in field-goal percentage (.440) and blocked shots (0.5 bpg). He had a season-high 10 points and eight rebounds against USC. His playing time dropped his sophomore season, with Crittle appearing in 20 games and starting one last year. He said he had no ill will toward his old school and simply felt it was time for a change.

"I don't knock Oregon for anything," he said. "Oregon was great to me. They took care of me for the first part, but it just wasn't my fit. It wasn't my niche. I learned a lot, I matured a lot."

Crittle was considering Valparaiso, Fresno State, Oakland and Ohio University before ultimately picking UCF.

"It's not about distance, it's not about that anymore," he said of considering schools far from his native Chicago. "It's just about the right fit."

He said UCF coach Donnie Jones' vision for the future of the program helped him pick the Knights.

"They just pretty much showed me the blueprint of how they would we would win, and how I could make it to the next level," he said. "If I work hard, they have a plan for me."

He grew up playing alongside current UCF point guard A.J. Rompza and guard Marcus Jordan, both of Chicago.

"Me and A.J. probably have been playing against each other since we were 12 or 13," Crittle said. "Me and Marcus have been playing against each other since before high school. We all know each other real well, so that definitely helped. I feel good playing on the same team as those guys."

Current UCF forward P.J. Gaynor was Crittle's host during his official visit.

"I've been hanging out with P.J. a lot, and we really got to know each other," Crittle said. "He was just showing me the ropes. We kicked it. I kicked it with pretty much everybody. We all went out as a team last night, and I felt good with all of them."

Crittle said he had never seen UCF before and was impressed during his visit.

"The campus is beautiful," he said. "I fell in love with it as soon as I got off the plane. it's beautiful down here."

He said he will keep working during his redshirt season to improve his game, but Crittle is sure he can help the Knights inside after the departure of Tyler and Herzog.

"I'm definitely a good post presence," he said when asked to describe his play. "I bring a post presence that's more physical."

Crittle said he was happy to hear about Jones' plans for an up-tempo style of play that includes a lot full-court pressure.

"Coming from the Pac-10, that's what I'm used to," he said. "That's an up tempo conference."

Crittle is the fifth player to join the UCF lineup since Jones was hired two months ago. He also was the second high-profile commitment during a busy but successful week for the coaching staff. Detroit Denby shooting guard Isaiah Sykes picked the Knights over Michigan and Arkansas Thursday night.

The duo join Hargrave Military Academy point guard Jarvis Davis, Morain Valley Community College junior college transfer Dwight McCombs and Herzog. McCombs also played high school basketball against Crittle, Rompza and Jordan in the Chicago area. Crittle is the only newcomer required to redshirt under NCAA transfer rules.

The Knights had two scholarships available when Jones joined the staff. Signee Kevin Brown asked for a release from his letter of intent, while point guard R.J. Scott and center Jakub "Kuba" Kusmieruk decided to transfer. The departures gave Jones and his staff five scholarships to fill.

Crittle takes the Knights' final scholarship available for the 2010-11 season, although the coaching staff has not made a final decision whether to put former walk-on Taylor Young on scholarship for his senior year. Young's scholarship is typically renewed on a year-to-year basis. Jones said Young will be on scholarship this summer.

Read Iliana Limón's blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/knightsnotepad and e-mail her at ilimon@orlandosentinel.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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