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Touted forward Sanders leaning toward Virginia

Terry Sanders of Hargrave Military Academy may become the newest member of the Virginia basketball family as early as today, according to Hargrave basketball coach Kevin Keatts.

"There's a very good chance that Terry decides this week," Keatts said yesterday. "Right now it's between Virginia and Marquette, but Virginia is in the lead."

Sanders, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound power forward originally from Milwaukee, narrowed his choices to three: Marquette, Rutgers and Virginia. He made his official visit to Rutgers last weekend and toured Virginia unofficially two weeks ago, watching the football game against Wake Forest.

"He really enjoyed the visit," Keatts said. "He loved the coaches, the players and the campus. I think he'd fit in real well down there."

So does Ron Briscoe of the Regional Basketball Report, who has seen Sanders play on several occasions and came away impressed every time.

"I heard he was supposed to make an announcement yesterday," Briscoe said. "It may be today or tomorrow or next week, but I heard he was going to go to U.Va. I think Virginia leads at this point. I was really impressed with his skills and what he can do. He's a great athlete, an explosive dunker and shot blocker."

If Sanders unexpectedly opts to return home and attend Marquette, Virginia will then focus its attention on 6-foot-9 power forward Kyle Cuffe of Rice High School in New York City, the same institution that produced former St. John's standout and current Vancouver Grizzly Felipe Lopez.

Cuffe will make his unofficial visit to Charlottesville this weekend for the Virginia Tech football game. He also lists St. John's and Villanova as legitimate contenders for his services, and according to Brick Oettinger of Prep Stars Recruiting Handbook, N.C. State and Florida State have dropped out of the chase.

"It wouldn't surprise me it takes him longer to decide," Oettinger said. "He's got to decide whether he wants to stay at home in the Big East or come to Virginia."

Which raises this question: who does Virginia desire more, Cuffe - who may wait to decide - or Sanders, who could declare his intentions as early as today? Is it conceivable that the Virginia coaching staff would ask Sanders to delay his decision to better gauge what Cuffe will do?

"They could certainly do that," Briscoe said. "It's definitely a possibility."

Other post players the Cavs have expressed interest in are Abdou Diame of Oak Hill Academy and J.C. Mathis, a product of Kennedy High in Brooklyn.