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COLLEGE NOTEBOOK

Price Is Not Right for the Aztecs?

January 22, 1992|DAVE MCKIBBEN

Robert Ringo and John Molle, San Diego State's starting guards, together average nine points a game. So it's hard to imagine the 2-13 Aztecs ignoring any players who could help them, especially those in their back yard. But apparently that is what SDSU is doing to Jerome Price, a Grossmont College guard who is averaging 25 points and seven rebounds a game.

As a senior at University City High, Price averaged 18 points for a 23-5 team that lost to El Camino in the San Diego Section 2-A finals. But in high school, he was better known for his track and field prowess. Price was a two-time section long jump champion and was named boys' track and field athlete of the year with Fallbrook's Brent Noon in 1990.

Price still dabbles in track--he won the state junior college long jump championship last year--but he wants to play basketball at the Division I level. So far only Cal Poly Pamona has offered a scholarship.

The knock on Price coming out of high school was that, at 6 feet 1, he wasn't big enough to play shooting guard and that he couldn't handle the ball well enough to play point guard.

Rick Wilkerson, Grossmont coach, says that has changed.

"He's really improved his range as a shooter and his ball handling," Wilkerson said. "He has surpassed the skill level we thought he could reach. He's really spent some time working on his game."

And Wilkerson says Price hasn't lost his ability to electrify the crowd.

"We run out-of-bounds dunk plays for him," Wilkerson said. "He does things a coach just can't teach. People who come out to our games tell me they come back just to watch Jerome jump. He's as good an athlete as I've ever had. "

But Wilkerson said college coaches don't seem to care about anything but Price's size.

"They probably think a 6-1 kid needs to play point guard," Wilkerson said. "But there's not a No. 2 guard in the county who can defend him and he can defend any No. 2 guard. I'm curious as to why other Division I schools aren't at least checking him out."

Pair of Comets shown the way: Palomar College defensive linemen Peau Atoe, a former Times All-County selection at El Camino, and Mino Faletoi, who played at Oceanside, have announced they will attend Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, Mo. Atoe settled on Missouri Western when they committed to rehabilitating his knee that he shattered in an automobile accident in December.

Atoe was driving home from a visit with a Memphis State coach when he fell asleep and crashed. His kneecap was shattered in four places. Palomar Coach Tom Craft said Atoe lost a quarter of his kneecap during reconstructive surgery.

"Missouri Western is banking on the fact that Peau is going to make a complete recovery," Craft said.

Palomar's Jerry Garrett, who led the state in receiving, is being courted by San Diego State, Houston, Arizona and Oregon State.

"San Diego State is telling him he could be their top recruit," Craft said. "They've told me and him that if they get him, he could put their offense on a new level."

Garrett is still 20 units short of getting his associate of arts degree.

Shape of things to come: Beth Burns, San Diego State women's basketball coach, must smile a lot when she thinks of the next three seasons. Not only is her team off to a 9-4 start, the Aztecs' best in her three seasons at SDSU, but Burns will have four of her top five scorers back for three more years.

Senior center Kieishsha Garnes leads SDSU in scoring at 19.1 points a game. She is followed by four freshman: guard Falisha Wright (13.9), forward Michelle Suman (12.9), forward Christina Murguia (8.5) and guard Lakeysha Wright (6.3). Next is guard Tammy Blackburn (5.2), who is just a sophomore.

Enger ailing: USD center Chris Enger, a 6-4 junior from Vista High, was just coming out of her season-long funk last weekend when she went injured her foot. Enger's scoring average is 13.6, up from last year's 13.2, but she was only shooting 46% compared to last year's 54%.

But Friday night against St. Mary's, she scored 21 points on eight of 12 shooting. In the first six minutes of Saturday's 73-51 loss at University of San Francisco, Enger scored seven points on three of four shooting. But she went down with an ankle sprain and did not return.

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