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Burgess Narrows His College Choices

Signings: Woodbridge basketball standout has eliminated Kentucky. He will choose either Brigham Young or Duke, his father says.


Woodbridge basketball standout Chris Burgess, considered one of the biggest prizes in this year's college recruiting wars, has eliminated Kentucky, and will choose Brigham Young or Duke, his father, Ken, said Wednesday, the first day high school athletes could sign letters of intent.

The Louisville Courier-Journal had quoted Ken Burgess as saying his son was less than impressed with a recent visit to Kentucky. Ken Burgess said that wasn't true.

"Chris told me that he loved Kentucky," Ken Burgess said. "But he told me, 'Dad, my heart is just not in that school.' When you make a decision sometimes, it's not your head, but your heart that decides."

BYU is believed to have an edge on Duke. Chris' sister, Angela, a 6-foot-4 center at Umpqua (Ore.) College, recently signed to play for the Cougars. Ken Burgess said earlier he was not impressed during a recent home visit with the BYU coaching staff, but that Chris loved his visit to the Provo campus and enjoyed playing pickup games with the Cougar players this summer. Ken added that BYU has not tried to influence the family, which is Mormon, to have Chris attend the school for religious reasons.

"Of all the schools, BYU is the only one that said to Chris that they wanted something from him," Ken said. "They said they wanted him to speak to the youth of America. They believe there is a great need for that."

Duke has pursued Burgess heavily and believes it has the edge, a source close to its basketball program said. However, the Raleigh News and Observer reported Wednesday it is highly unlikely Burgess will become a Blue Devil. The newspaper pointed out that Duke already has signed three of the country's top 12 recruits, including forwards Shane Battier and Elton Brand, who would compete with Burgess for playing time.

At Woodbridge Wednesday, Chris Burgess would not indicate which way he was leaning, saying only, "I haven't made up my mind yet." He was waiting to talk with his parents, who arrived home last night from England, where they had been for a week.

A press conference has been scheduled at the high school gymnasium Monday at 6 p.m., when Burgess is expected to reveal his choice. He has until Nov. 20 to sign a letter of intent. The next NCAA signing period begins April 9.

The 6-11 Burgess, twice an all-county selection by The Times, led the county in scoring (26.3 points a game) and was fourth in rebounding (10.6). He is considered by many to be one of the top prospects in the nation, ranking as high as No. 2 by analyst Bob Gibbons, editor and publisher of All Star Sports Publications in Lenoir, N.C.

Staff writer Dave McKibben contributed to this story.


Other letter-of-intent signings and commitments Wednesday:

State champions Joe Calavitta and Ty Wilcox have signed to wrestle in college, Calvary Chapel Coach John Azevedo said.

Calavitta, 17, the 1996 state champion at 135 pounds and The Times Orange County's wrestler of the year last season, will attend Minnesota, where he'll join former teammate and The Times' 1995 wrestler of the year, Josh Holiday.

Wilcox, 17, who won the state title at 152 pounds, will join former Calvary Chapel standouts Shane and Dane Valdez at Oklahoma State.


Erin Stovall, a two-time Times Orange County first-team basketball player at Woodbridge, signed to attend Virginia. Stovall, a 5-7 guard attending Honolulu (Hawaii) Iolani this year, averaged 20.2 points and had 112 steals last season for Woodbridge, the two-time state champions.


Jeff Pashalides, a senior left-handed pitcher from Woodbridge High, signed to attend Stanford, his father, Tom, said.

Pashalides missed his entire junior season and all of last summer because of stress fractures in his back but has been making a comeback in fall scout leagues, his father said.


Shealee Dunavan, an outfielder at Mater Dei, signed a letter of intent to attend Michigan State to play softball.

Dunavan, a Times Orange County second-team player, batted .346 with three home runs and 20 runs batted in for the Monarchs.


Irvine's Missy Brigman, a catcher at Irvine, has signed to attend Carson Newman College to play softball.

Brigman, a three-time All-Sea View League player, also was recruited by Air Force to play soccer, but instead chose the school in Jefferson, Tenn.


Mary Petrie, a pitcher at Bolsa Grande, signed on to play softball at Auburn.

Petrie, 13-7 with a 0.61 ERA, was the Garden Grove League's most valuable player.


Yorba Linda's Monique Toney, an All-Southern Section Division IV point guard last season at Cerritos Valley Christian, has signed to play women's basketball at Pittsburgh.


Garrett Nuzum, a left-handed pitcher at Newport Harbor, signed to play at Long Beach State, his father, Dennis Nuzum, said.

He was an All-Sea View League player, with a 2.81 earned-run average and 64 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings.


David McKienzie, an outside hitter on the Huntington Beach boys' volleyball team, has signed with Long Beach State, Joy McKienzie, his sister, said.

McKienzie was a first-team All-Sunset League selection last season. He was an All-Moore League pick in 1995 at Long Beach Wilson, where he played as a freshman and sophomore.


Jim Polster, an outside hitter for Dana Hills High, signed to attend Long Beach State to play volleyball.

Polster was a first-team All-South Coast League selection last season, when Dana Hills finished 4-12, 3-7 in league.


Crissy Hartman, a pitcher at Magnolia, has signed to attend Cal State Fullerton and play softball.


Susie Mora, a central defender for the Santa Margarita girls' soccer team, has orally committed to attend USC. Mora helped Santa Margarita to the Southern Section Division I quarterfinals last season.

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