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Big 12 Offseason News Update

October 23, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big 12 Conference Notebook

by Mitch Schneider

Where to begin?

It’s been an interesting off-season, to say the least, for the Big 12. From the troubles at Baylor and Iowa State to the new faces at Kansas and K-State, the Big 12 has experienced more plot twists than “The OC.”

That being said, here’s a quick look at news and notes from the Big 12 off-season. Viewer discretion is advised.

Baylor

In the latest developments surrounding former Baylor player Carlton Dotson, the Associated Press reported October 17 that Dotson will give up his fight against returning to Texas to face charges that he killed teammate Patrick Dennehy. As a result, Texas authorities will be free to extradite Dotson from his current holding place in Chestertown, Maryland. Dennehy was last seen alive June 12 and was reported missing by his family a week later. On July 21, Dotson was charged with Dennehy’s murder, and five days after that, Texas authorities found the body southeast of Waco.

Baylor head coach Dave Bliss and Athletic Director Tom Stanton resigned from their respective posts on August 8, leaving behind a fractured Baylor program still reeling from the events of this past summer. An NCAA panel began investigating Bliss’ program at Baylor after Dennehy’s disappearance, and uncovered numerous violations that occurred under Bliss’ watch, including the payment of players and the encouraging of boosters to give money to summer league programs for high school players. In his four years at Baylor, Bliss’ Bears compiled a 61-57 (.517) record; 14-14 this past season.

Two weeks after Bliss’ departure, Baylor announced his replacement: 32-year old, former Valparaiso head coach, Scott Drew. Drew was an assistant for nine years at Valpo under his father, Homer, and took over the lead position after his dad retired. As one of the youngest head coaches in Division I, Drew promptly led his Crusaders to a 20-11 record and a berth in the NIT. Since his transfer to Baylor, Drew has added Matthew Driscoll (from Clemson), Mark Morefield (Valpo), Jerome Tang (Heritage Christian Academy) and Stephen Brough (Wright State) to his coaching staff.

Colorado

Former Colorado forward Stephane Pelle inked a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in August, doubling the number of Buffaloes currently employed by the NBA. Pelle, Colorado’s all-time leading rebounder and only 1,000-point, 1,000-board man, joins Detroit star Chauncey Billups as CU’s only two representatives in the league. Pelle has gotten off to a solid start with L.A., averaging almost eight points and four rebounds per game in the preseason.

Buffalo center David Harrison has been named to the John Wooden Preseason All-American team, joining 49 other ballers who turned heads with their play last year. Harrison, a seven-foot junior, netted 13.9 points and 8.3 boards per game as a sophomore, and broke Colorado’s all-time record for blocked shots in just his second year of college.

Iowa State

Forward Jackson Vroman has been suspended indefinitely from the Cyclones’ program following his arrest on a drunken driving charge October 16. Iowa State police pulled Vroman’s car over at 2:20 in the morning, after his car was seen weaving over the center lane. Vroman’s suspension is the second one he’s received since May, when he was found to be in possession of marijuana. Vroman, a 6-10 senior, averaged 12.2 points and 9.4 boards per game last season.

The aforementioned incident is the latest headache for an Iowa State program deeply embarrassed by the actions of former coach Larry Eustachy last spring, as well as by the exploits of two other players charged with alcohol offenses and the revelation that assistant coach Randy Brown had been in possession of child pornography while at Iowa State (Brown has since resigned).

Kansas

With former Kansas coach/legend Roy Williams currently kicking off his tenure in Tarheel-land, the Bill Self era has officially begun in Lawrence. Self has spent his first KU off-season adding coaches (Sean Harrington, Joe Dooley and trainer Billy Cowgill), and getting to know his players. While Self may not yet be considered an equal to King Roy, Self is coming off an impressive run at Illinois where his teams went 78-24 (.765) in three seasons, capturing two Big Ten titles.

Jayhawks’ guard Keith Langford recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair slight cartilage damage. The 6-4 junior will be sidelined 2-3 weeks, scheduled to return to action in mid-November. Langford (15.9 PPG), along with teammate Wayne Simien (14.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG), is one of the 50 preseason candidates for the prestigious John R. Wooden Award.

Kansas great, Danny Manning, has returned to Lawrence to take the position of Director of Student-Athlete Development/Team Manager with the men’s basketball team. Manning starred at Kansas in the late eighties, guiding the ‘Hawks to a national championship in 1988 and ending his KU career the all-time leader in points (2,951) and boards (1,187). According to head coach Bill Self, Manning will join the team not in a coaching capacity, but as a mentor and counselor to the players.

Kansas State

Incoming Kansas State freshman Dez Willingham, one-sixth of a very talented Wildcats’ rookie class, averaged 11 points and 4.5 assists per game for his select team during the Coca-Cola Global Games International Basketball Tournament, held in Dallas this summer. Willingham’s squad, which consisted mostly of Texas high school stars, managed a 3-2 record in the 10-team tournament, losing both of its games to undefeated Team USA. In Willingham’s top performance, the six-foot guard netted 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting against Brazil, nailing three three-pointers in the win.

Missouri

Missouri coach Quin Snyder has been feeling the heat this summer as allegations of recruiting violations have swirled around his basketball program. While Snyder’s alleged wrongdoings aren’t public knowledge, the University of Missouri had imposed a three-week suspension on Snyder after conducting its own investigation on the matter. The NCAA is looking into this case, as well, and is also investigating charges of academic fraud involving former Missouri guard Ricky Clemons.

Speaking of Clemons, the Missouri senior was permanently dismissed from the program on July 22. Clemons was notified of the school’s decision inside Boone County Jail where he is serving time stemming from a January incident in which he allegedly choked and held a woman against her will. Clemons was originally given a year-long suspension by the university following the episode. However, he violated his court sentence by attending a party outside his halfway house, and as a result, was dismissed from the basketball program for good. Clemons had averaged over 14 points per game last year, while leading the Tigers in assists.

On a happier note, Missouri Center Arthur Johnson and guard Rickey Paulding were named to the John Wooden Preseason All-American team, joining a list that includes eight other Big 12 players. Johnson (16.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG) and Paulding (17.4 PPG) were both selected to the All-Big 12 Second Team last year, and many predict both Tigers will earn First Team recognition this time around.

Nebraska

The Huskers announced in late July the signing of standout prep, James Reynolds, out of southern California. The 6-2, 190-pound shooting guard averaged 18.5 PPG for a Crenshaw (Los Angeles, Calif.) squad that went 20-6 last year. According to Nebraska head coach Barry Collier, Reynolds has excellent jumping ability and can also hit from downtown.

Oklahoma

Former Oklahoma All-American point guard, Hollis Price, was named the 2003 Jim Thorpe Association Athlete of the Year for his display of exceptional athletic skill, performance, leadership and dedication. Price, who averaged a team-high 18 PPG in leading his Sooners to a 27-7 record this past year, helped OU rack up a record 110 wins over his career in Norman. Price finished as the seventh leading scorer in Oklahoma history.

The Sooners summer plans included an excursion to Costa Rica where the team completed a perfect 4-0 “road” trip against various professional Latin clubs. On the final day of competition, OU dismantled Barva de Heredia, 100-34, before getting by Liceo, 79-69. During the exhibition, Oklahoma was without sophomore guard De’Angelo Alexander who was recovering from a dislocated right shoulder sustained in an August practice. Alexander has since returned to the hardwood and should be ready to go come November.

Oklahoma State

John Lucas III, a 5-11 junior point guard, has joined Coach Eddie Sutton’s crew after transferring from Baylor in August. Lucas averaged over 13 points and four assists per game last season for the Bears, and will add some scoring punch to a Cowboys’ unit that returns just 45-percent of its offense from a year ago. Lucas is the son of former Cleveland Cavaliers coach, John Lucas, Jr.

Texas

Former Texas All-American T.J. Ford officially waved goodbye to his college career as the sophomore point guard entered the 2003 NBA draft. Ford was snatched by the Milwaukee Bucks with the eighth pick, becoming the third highest draft pick in UT history ( LaSalle Thompson was selected No. 5 overall by Kansas City in 1982 and Chicago took Chris Mihm with the seventh pick in 2000). Ford drove the Longhorns to the Final Four last season, while averaging 15 points and almost eight assists per game along the way.

Guard Brandon Mouton started all five contests for Team USA in this summer’s Pan American Games, netting 7.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG. Despite a roster that featured Mouton, Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor and Missouri’s Arthur Johnson, the Americans went just 2-3 in international play.

Kenny Taylor, who started for Baylor last year, has transferred to Texas bringing with him a nice scoring touch (11.8 PPG, 39% 3-pt.) and great speed. Taylor, a junior guard, was a teammate of T.J. Ford at Sugar Land Willowridge H.S. in Houston.

Texas A&M

The Aggies enjoyed a friendly, competitive tour of Italy in August and posted four wins in five tries against their Italian counterparts. Over the two-week trip, A&M sophomore Antoine Wright carved up defenses like a plate of Italian salami, averaging 27-plus PPG over his last three contests. Former Aggie Tomas Ress, now playing professional ball in Italy, was on hand to watch his alma mater compete and was presented with his college degree in a surprise ceremony at the team hotel.

A&M announced the addition of assistant coach Lance Irvin to the staff in late August. Irvin, who formerly served on the Illinois State staff, fills the role vacated by Tom Billeter, now the head man at Augustana College.

Texas Tech

Red Raiders coach Bob Knight had been selected by The Vince Lombardi Titletown Legends to be the first non-Lombardi Era player inducted into their organization. The program honors those individuals who possess the characteristics instilled by Vince Lombardi in all of his players; Dedication, Teamwork, Respect, Love, Family and Discipline. Knight joined former Packers’ Hall-of-Fame quarterback Bart Starr and other Green Bay legends in the induction ceremony held on August 20 in Wisconsin.

Former Hoosier guard Stew Robinson signed on to assist Coach Knight at Texas Tech. Robinson played under The General from 1982-86, and until recently, was an assistant at Morehead State.

     

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