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It's never too early to plan ahead

Morning Briefing

June 21, 2007|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

Here's a suggestion for the next field of battle in the storied USC-UCLA rivalry: Eighth-grade basketball games.

USC Coach Tim Floyd recently picked up his second oral commitment in two years from a player who has yet to line up for his first high school tipoff.

Ryan Boatwright, a 5-foot-10, 145-pound point guard from Aurora, Ill., would enter USC in the fall of 2011.

Last year, Floyd offered a scholarship to 6-foot-6 forward Dwayne Polee Jr., then 14 and about to begin his freshman season at Westchester High.

Crazy? Floyd pleads not guilty.

"First of all, you always have to understand your competition, and your competition has done that in the past," he said. "You remember Taylor King."

King committed to play for UCLA and Coach Ben Howland back in 2003 before his freshman year at Santa Ana Mater Dei -- only to change his mind and later sign with Duke, where he will be a freshman this fall.

"You understand how early people are identifying talent," Floyd said. "Should the rule of thumb be to wait until Duke offers, and then come in and offer?"

Boatwright's father, Mike, told FoxSports.com his son accepted Floyd's offer during a recent camp at USC. Such agreements are nonbinding. "It shocked me," Mike Boatwright said. "But Ryan loved it there and he decided on his own." NCAA rules prohibit Floyd from talking publicly about specific recruits until they sign a letter of intent, which Boatwright can't do until 2010.

Trivia time

Who hit the only walk-off grand slam in College World Series history?

Fore!

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, talking about the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship he'll compete in at Lake Tahoe next month to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, recalled a shot from last year's tournament.

"I actually hit a little kid," Palmer said. "On my second shot, it was an elevated green and I couldn't see the top of the green, and I hit a ball and it was going a little bit left, and I heard a lot of noise from the audience up top, and I got up there and there was like a little 8-year-old kid wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey. I didn't actually see the contact, but I hit him on the fly right in the middle of his back.

"He was all right, but I got up there and I said I was sorry, and I said, 'At least you're a Steelers fan, I don't feel so bad.' "

It was in January 2006 when Palmer suffered a serious knee injury in a playoff game ... against the Steelers.

Kobe, Kobe, Kobe

Summer is officially here and Kobe Bryant is still a Laker. Times blogger Christine Daniels offered some ideas about what might come next as Bryant tries to slash-and-burn his way out of town:

"Plan B: Seen stomping all over a Magic Johnson replica jersey outside the Champs Sports shop at the Santa Ana Main Place mall.

"Plan C: Goes on Barcelona TV and curses out Andrew Bynum in Spanish, getting all the regional nuances and inflections just right.

"Plan D: After performing a hip-hop number on Saturday Night Live, holds up an 8-by-10 glossy of Jerry West and tears it into pieces.

"Plan E: Is videotaped buying staples at Office Depot instead of at Staples."

Trivia answer

Stanford's Paul Carey hit a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning to stave off elimination against Louisiana State in 1987. The Cardinal went on to win the title.

And finally

Tennis player Marcos Baghdatis lost the final of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, in straight sets Sunday, but said it didn't spoil his 22nd birthday.

"No, my birthday is my birthday. My mother will still call me."

robyn.norwood@latimes.com

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