No. 4 prospect Birch commits to Pitt

Pittsburgh has received a commitment from one of the elite big men in the Class of 2012.

Canadian Khem Birch, ranked fourth in the junior class by and No. 2 in the nation by, gave Panthers coach Jamie Dixon a verbal pledge on Wednesday.

"I chose Pittsburgh because I really feel comfortable with Coach (Pat) Skerry and Coach Dixon, and I feel that they can help me develop," Birch told

The 6-foot-9, 200-pound Birch, who hails from Quebec, spent last season at Winchendon School (Mass.) and has transferred to nearby Notre Dame Prep this year.

Birch is a long and extremely athletic frontline player who can change the game on the defensive end with his shot-blocking ability. If his ranking holds up, he’d be the highest regarded player ever to sign with the Panthers.

"Khem’s long-term goal is to be a pro,” Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd told "Coach Dixon has done a terrific job developing pros, and he’s also made it clear the door is always open for Khem to return and finish getting his degree.”

"He hasn’t even scratched the surface,” added Expressions coach Todd Quarles, who runs Birch’s summer league. "He’s got so much upside and wants to be great.”

New Pittsburgh assistant Pat Skerry, who was hired from Providence in the offseason, was key in the recruitment of Birch.

"Providence was the leader in the clubhouse when Coach Skerry was there,” Hurd said. "And when he went to Pittsburgh, it was a no-brainer for Khem.”

"He just felt comfortable with Skerry and Coach Dixon. Khem is a special player. He’s a fantastic player and kid, and it’s tough to coach him sometimes because it’s impossible to get angry at him.”