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To the rest of the Big East Conference, Pitt men’s basketball recruit Austin Wallace says beware.

“Some of the Big East schools that didn’t recruit me as hard, I feel sorry for those schools,” the 6-foot-9 220-pound center from New York La Salle Academy said Monday, a day after revealing he gave a verbal commitment to Pitt for the 2006-07 season.

“Several years from now, they will be kicking themselves,” he said. “The coaches at Pitt gave me a chance. They saw something in me, and they were really dedicated to me. Now, it’s time for me to get to work.”

Wallace, 16, joins 6-6 Gilbert Brown, a Harrisburg native who plays at South Kent (Conn.) School, as early commitments to the Panthers. Wallace chose Pitt over Florida Atlantic, which he said had offered him a better chance at a starting spot as a freshman.

Big East schools Georgetown, Marquette and Seton Hall, as well as Georgia Tech and Purdue also showed interest in Wallace, who averaged 17.0 points, 14.0 rebounds and 6.0 blocks per game as a high school junior.

But it was Pitt that sparked Wallace’s interest the most. He credited Panthers associate head coach Barry Rohrssen for recognizing him.

“Coach Slice (Rohrssen) and coach (Jamie) Dixon saw something in me, and they were really dedicated to me,” said Wallace, who attended the Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., this year, where he was a team member of No. 1 high school prospect Greg Oden, from Indianapolis Lawrence North High School.

At La Salle Academy, Wallace attends a school known for basketball excellence. Others notable former players from the school are Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest, former Milwaukee Bucks guard Shamgod Wells and John Candelaria, the ex-Pirates pitcher who is the school’s all-time leading scorer.

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