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No Rest for the Wary in College Basketball

November 19, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

As exciting and intriguing as college basketball seasons are, the madness usually is confined to March. With college basketball recruiting, it never ends.

That's the reason that, no matter how high their salaries go, college basketball coaches are not overpaid.

Take Steve Lavin, for example. The UCLA coach recruited perhaps the best freshman class in the nation--Dan Gadzuric, JaRon Rush, Jerome Moiso, Ray Young and Matt Barnes--but before they play their first game tonight at Pauley Pavilion against Santa Clara, there already is keen interest in the next players Lavin is recruiting.

It's not a case of, "What have you done for us lately?" It's a case of, "What are you going to do for us next?"

Perhaps it has to be like that in an era when exceptional players can't be expected to remain in college for more than one or two years.

During UCLA sophomore point guard Baron Davis' senior year at Santa Monica Crossroads, the two questions he most often heard were, "Where are you going to college?" and, "How long are you going to stay?" The choice for the 6-foot-10 Gadzuric out of Byfield, Mass., came down to UCLA or the NBA. Rush's brother, Kareem, is considering following him from Kansas City to UCLA after this season, but no one can predict whether JaRon will still be there.

Lavin must keep one eye on them and one eye on the future in case they don't return. As a result, Lavin and his staff know by heart Alaska Air's phone number.

Carlos Boozer, a 6-9, 235-pound power forward from Juneau, has narrowed his list of potential colleges to UCLA, Duke and St. John's.

It isn't my intention to sway Boozer because any of the three would be a good choice, but I did find one quote from St. John's Coach Mike Jarvis amusing.

During Boozer's visit to Queens last weekend for St. John's opener against North Carolina Asheville, Jarvis, attempting to impress Boozer, said, "I don't know of any other place in America where you could have a game and in the stands you've got Jayson Williams, Malik Sealy, Felipe Lopez, Shawnelle Scott and on and on, it's unbelievable--Lou Carnesecca."

Perhaps Jarvis should visit Pauley Pavilion, where the crowd sometimes includes Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Bill Walton, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes, Mitch Kupchak and, oh yeah, John Wooden.


Few basketball players in the nation, or maybe the world if Gadzuric from Holland and Moiso from Guadeloupe are examples, will refuse to come to the phone if UCLA calls.

USC has to be more creative in recruiting.

Two of its best incoming players this season are junior college transfers Quincy Wilder and Brian Scalabrine.

Wilder, a junior guard, was one of the nation's top high school players in Federal Way, Wash., while Scalabrine, a sophomore power forward from Enumclaw, Wash., already has been touted as an all-conference candidate in the mold of Stanford's Mark Madsen.

Maybe both would have come to USC under any circumstances. But it didn't hurt when Coach Henry Bibby gave an assistant's job to Joe Callero, their coach at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash.

That is a tried and true method of recruiting. Less orthodox was the Trojans' attempt a couple of years ago to woo Long Beach Poly's Michael McDonald by sending assistant Dave Miller to one of his games in a uniform from McDonald's.

I guess he didn't want fries with that scholarship. He chose Stanford.


Newhall Hart's Kyle Boller threw a pass last Friday night that traveled 76 yards in the air. . . . .

Boller, a 6-3 senior completing his first year at quarterback, has visits planned to California, Oregon, Florida State, Colorado and Tennessee. . . .

The Division II Southern Section playoff game Friday night between La Verne's Damien High and Beverly Hills High is interesting enough in its own right, made more so because two of the most famous people in the country this year are alums. . . .

Mark McGwire went to Damien, Monica Lewinsky to Beverly Hills.


While wondering if Dick Vermeil is looking forward to a return to the broadcast booth, I was thinking: Sammy Sosa is the National League most valuable player, McGwire is baseball's most valuable player, anyone who doesn't think NBA players are cracking hasn't heard that Brian Williams changed his name to Bison Dele.


Randy Harvey can be reached at his e-mail address:

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