Pepperdine basketball coach Jim Harrick has signed six players to letters of intent for the fall semester, fighting off other schools who would have liked their services.
Now comes the hard part for Harrick and his staff: sweating out whether three freshman recruits do well enough on their Scholastic Aptitude Tests and a junior college transfer receives his associate of arts degree.
Unless the freshmen--guards Wally Carter of Las Vegas High School and Lafayette Dorsey of Dorsey High and 6-5 forward Michael Courtney of Westchester--meet new scholastic eligibility requirements for NCAA Division I schools, they won't be suiting up for the Waves next fall. And unless guard Edward Allen of San Francisco, who signed last November, gets an associate's degree before fall from San Francisco City College, he won't be playing either.
Harrick does not seem worried about Allen. The coach said that two years ago, when senior forward Anthony Frederick was transferring to Pepperdine from Santa Monica College, "we waited on (him) till August." Frederick, who has completed his eligibility at Pepperdine, got his AA degree by the end of summer and went on to star for the Waves for two years.
But Harrick, like all other Division I coaches, is concerned about the three freshmen, who were expected to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test this week.
Under the new NCAA standards, which were adopted in 1982 but take effect this fall, a scholarship candidate must either score a combined 700 on the SATs or a 15 on the American College Test. He also must have a 2.0 grade point average (on a scale of 4) in a core curriculum that includes three years of English, two years of mathematics, two of a social science and two more of a natural or physical science.
An amendment to the requirements, passed this year, will permit a lower SAT or ACT score to be offset by a high GPA, or vice versa, for the next two years.
Harrick has lost three senior guards from last year's squad, which finished with a 25-5 record and went to the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in the last five years. Without Dwayne Polee, Jon Korfas and Grant Gondrezick gone, the Pepperdine coach recruited four new guards this year.
The other guard coming in is Donny Moore, who is transferring from West Valley Junior College in San Jose, and the last of the six new recruits is 6-7, 200-pound forward Michael Cumberland from Rio Hondo College. Both are expected to get their degrees on time.
Without Polee, Korfas and Gondrezick, three big reasons why Pepperdine won its second straight West Coast Athletic Conference championship last season, Harrick said he recruited more guards than usual. He also went for more guards because of the tighter eligibility requirements.
"We lost some kids, and we had to protect ourselves with junior college kids and some freshmen. Then too, this is a different year because of the SAT, and we want to make sure our team is covered, especially at the guard spot.
"Even if they (the three freshmen) could pass the test, we have lost a lot of firepower. And to expect freshmen to come in and start and help win the conference is a difficult assignment."
If they don't succeed on the SATs, the freshmen could decide to join the hosts of athletes who are expected to be in the same situation and play at junior colleges.
Or they could matriculate at Pepperdine and follow either of two options. Under one, as Harrick explained, they could accept a scholarship, not practice or play with the Waves and forgo one year of eligibility. Under the other, the player could accept financial aid instead of a scholarship, attend Pepperdine without playing or practicing the first year and still have four years of eligibility.
Whatever happens, Harrick said, "we're covered, but I don't think we would be quite as good" as with the three freshmen and Allen.
Returning in the back court for the Waves will be juniors Marty Wilson and Jim Harrick, the coach's son, and Craig Davis, who was a redshirt freshman last season. Coach Harrick said he feels that any of those three, as well as junior college transfer Moore, are "ready to help us."
The only starters who will be back are 6-8 junior forward Eric White and 6-7 sophomore center Levy Middlebrooks. The other starter on the front line is expected to be 6-7 redshirt freshman Dexter Howard, who was San Francisco's outstanding prep player in 1985 at McAteer High.
Another redshirt freshman, 6-10 Casey Crawford from Leuzinger High, could turn out to be Harrick's first "true center" since 7-footer Brett Barnett in 1981. Harrick said that Crawford "has to get some playing time to improve. But I think Casey will help us; he just needs some work."
Harrick said he is still trying to land 7-0 center Frake Biej , a native of the Netherlands who played his high school senior year in Salt Lake City last season. He said that if Biej signs, he will redshirt next fall.
The six who have signed and capsule descriptions of each: