Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Lowery May Have to Choose His Sport : Careers: Former Loyola Marymount athlete's baseball rights belong to the Texas Rangers. But he may pursue basketball with the Denver Nuggets instead.

August 13, 1992|SEAN WATERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former Loyola Marymount two-sport standout Terrell Lowery could be facing a crossroads in his athletic career next month.

He might have to choose between playing minor league baseball in the Texas Rangers organization--traveling to towns such as Port Charlotte, Fla., and Tulsa and Oklahoma City--or pursuing a basketball career. He may be invited to the Denver Nuggets' tryout camp in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The time is getting close for the 6-foot-3 Lowery to make a decision.

"I think Terrell is a very talented young player," Denver Nugget General Manager Bernie Bickerstaff said. "Athletically, physically and mentally. He's very tough.

"I'm sure Terrell has to make a decision. It's nice to have options."

When Lowery signed a professional contract in 1991 with the Rangers, he received a six-figure reporting bonus and played rookie ball in Butte, Mont. The contract was structured so that Lowery could remain eligible to play basketball during his senior season at Loyola. Since leaving Loyola in the spring, he has not played baseball.

Lowery, however, needs to report to the instructional league Sept. 15 to collect his remaining bonus. A source familiar with Lowery's contract said he received an initial bonus of $100,000 and will earn an additional $75,000 when he reports to the instructional league.

But Lowery also has ambitions to play in the NBA. Although he was not drafted, Lowery was invited to audition for a spot on summer league teams with the Nuggets, the Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Lowery's agent, former Laker and Clipper guard Norm Nixon, advised Lowery to pursue an opportunity with the Nuggets. Last month, Lowery played in the Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City and averaged 7.6 points and three assists a game.

The Nuggets' training camp begins Oct. 9 at the Air Force Academy.

"We would like to invite him to training camp," Bickerstaff said. "We're in the process of talking to his people.

"But there are no guarantees that he will make the team."

So Lowery may be forced to make a decision. Does he attend the instructional league and collect the $75,000 bonus or hope for a shot with the Nuggets? The NBA minimum salary is $140,000 a season.

"It's a hard question," Lowery said. "I like both sports. I'm not ready to give up either one."

Lowery, 21, ruled out the idea of playing in the Continental Basketball Assn. if he fails to make an NBA squad.

"Play in the CBA and quit baseball?" Lowery said. "No, I wouldn't do that."

One thing is certain: The Rangers are willing to wait for Lowery to make his decision. They own his baseball rights for the next six years.

"When we signed Terrell Lowery, we knew he had a passion to play basketball and that we might have to wait," Rangers West Coast scout Len Strelitz said. "It could take two or three years, but he would still be only 23 or 24.

"The worst-case scenario is that he exhausts his opportunities in basketball before he returns to play baseball. The bottom line is (that) when basketball is out of his system, he'll be an even better baseball player."

As a basketball player, Lowery twice was the West Coast Conference scoring champion. He was the nation's eighth-leading scorer last season, averaging 26 points a game. He was the WCC's all-time leader in assists (689) and second all-time leading scorer (2,201 points). He was an honorable mention All-American selection by the Associated Press.

As a baseball player, Lowery struggled initially at Butte in the Pioneer League. The Rangers sent a special instructor to help him work on his hitting and he responded, batting .299 with three home runs, seven triples, 10 doubles and 33 runs batted in. He also had 23 stolen bases, was selected to the Pioneer League all-star team and was voted the league's second-best major league prospect.

Baseball America selected Lowery the 40th-best prospect in the minor leagues and said: "Great speed. But will he run to the National Basketball Assn.?"

Rangers scout Jim Benedict thinks that Lowery could be the center fielder and leadoff batter for the Rangers in 1994. When he first scouted him, Benedict listed Lowery as a five-category player, ranking him above average in batting, running, throwing, fielding and batting with power.

"I could fill your head with superlatives about him," Benedict said. "He's a basketball player who is not being pursued by a basketball team, and he's a can't-miss baseball player.

"He's doing us and himself a disservice and he's impeding his progress by staying away from baseball. The longer he stays away, the longer it will take for him to make the major leagues."

Lowery, however, is not impressed with his flattering baseball reviews.

"Yeah. I've heard it," he said. "It doesn't move me. I'm the kind of guy who is a go-getter. I'm not impressed with all the hype. When I do it, it can be talked about."

But the only thing worth talking about is Lowery's indecision.

"I don't know what's going to happen," he said. "I don't what's going to be done. I'm undecided. I need to get down to do some serious thinking."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|