Sunday, July 2, 2000

Kansas recruits anxious for outcome


Whatever Roy Williams decides, his entire incoming recruiting class is bound to attend Kansas University next season.

Of course, that class is made of just one player Carrollton (Texas) Turner High graduate Bryant Nash.

Discounting DeShawn Stevenson, who was selected in last month's NBA draft, Nash is the only player who signed a letter of intent with KU last year, and he's bound by NCAA rules to abide by the letter.

"You sign with a school, not a coach," emphasized KU associate athletics director Richard Konzem.

A few recent cases have tested how binding a letter is. A handful of signees have tried to be released from their letters of intent after coaches have changed jobs.

"After that, what they did was emphasize on the signature line that if a coach leaves, you're still bound to the school," Konzem said. "The penalties are severe. You sit out two years and lose two years. All you could do is go to a junior college."

Nash isn't thinking juco yet, though he is anxious to see if Williams, KU's coach the past 12 seasons, will return for a 13th year or head off to North Carolina, his alma mater, to replace the retired Bill Guthridge.

"I really don't know what to think about it," Nash said Saturday. "Before all this coach Williams told me people would be spreading the rumor that he was leaving. He said he wasn't leaving when I went on my visit.

"I never knew anything about him and North Carolina until this happened. He's a big reason I picked Kansas, but it would depend on the coaches we get. If (assistant) Neil Dougherty stays, there's a real good chance I'd go ahead and go there. I really don't know."

Should Williams leave and should Nash decide to pass on Kansas, Nash's options would be limited. An academic qualifier, he could attend a junior college and transfer to an NCAA Div. I school after a year.

If he thumbed his nose at the letter and went to, say, Memphis, his other finalist, he would sit two years and only be eligible for two years. A third option would be to attend KU for a year, ask for a release from his scholarship and transfer. He'd have to sit out a year in that scenario.

"I'm not thinking about all that," said Nash. "I'll see what happens."

That's the approach taken by some of the nation's top prep seniors-to-be who had been recruited by Williams for Kansas.

The Jayhawks will have six scholarships next season, and if Williams leaves, KU would have to scramble to find a replacement in time for the start of the recruiting period next Saturday.

One player who already has given the Jayhawks a nonbinding oral commitment said he would reconsider his pledge if Williams left.

"I'd have to re-weigh my options because he's a big reason why I chose the University of Kansas," Leavenworth High forward Wayne Simien said Saturday. "It's pretty much up to him. I'd like him to stay, but I'll support him just like he'd support me."

But if Williams heads to Carolina, it could make the college choice easier for at least one prep. St. Louis standout David Lee, who made an unofficial visit to KU last month, also is considering Carolina, among others.

"This would make it easier on David," Lee's mother, Susan, said. "He liked coach Guthridge, but he wants a younger coach."

Williams' potential departure for UNC was an issue when Lee visited.

"My son asked him outright, 'How long will you be here?'" Susan Lee said. "His answer was just what he said on TV: 'I hope coach Guthridge and I coach 10 more years and quit.' Then he said, 'I hope that coach Guthridge doesn't quit and I don't have to make that decision. I love where I am and I love North Carolina.' That was his answer, but it was sort of a no answer."

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