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February 27, 2013
MORE: Class of 2014 Rivals100
On Wednesday, the nation's No. 4 overall prospect made it official: he is a Cavalier.
"I really knew a couple of weeks ago when I sat down with the coaches and really talked to them and saw how they felt about me," said the 6-foot-2, 196-pound Blanding. "I got to find out where they see me playing. After talking with the new defensive coordinator [Jon Tenuta], I really fell in love with Virginia.
"I chose the school because I feel comfortable there and I can relate to the coaches, especially my position coach [Anthony Poindexter]," he said. "Being around him, I'm learning things from him about the way he played and he is learning things from me about how I play."
In recent years Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside has had players such as Taquan Mizzell, Anthony Cooper, Demetrious Nicholson and Henry Coley choose to stay in state and attend the Charlottesville school.
"Having teammates there plays a big factor because I know I can go up there and be comfortable and be myself and not try to be anything I'm not," Blanding said. "They can rely on me and I can rely on them to get through things. It's also close to home and that doesn't hurt."
After last season head coach Mike London made a few changes to his staff and, if the record doesn't improve, more changes could be in the future for the Cavs. But that doesn't bother Blanding.
"No, coaching changes won't hurt my faith in the school," he said. "They told me that things like that have to be done sometimes, but I don't look for things like that. I just look forward to trying to change the program around and making it a better program."