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Friday, June 24, 2005

Gooden loves role with LeBron, Cavaliers

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Drew Gooden, who has played for three teams in his three-year NBA career, may have found a permanent home in Cleveland.

The 6-foot-10, 242-pounder had his best season as a pro last season with the Cavaliers, averaging 14.4 points and 9.2 rebounds a game for a team that missed the playoffs on the last day of the season.

"Hopefully," Gooden said, asked if he'd be finishing his first pro contract (four years, $13.08 million) next to LeBron James. "But the nature of the game is it's a business, and you never know. Wherever I'm at, I'll play my game and do what I need to do."

Gooden -- he hit 49.2 percent of his floor shots last season -- said it was "a joy" teaming with James, a former high school phenom who has averaged 24.1 points a game in his first two years as a pro.

"He is one of the best young players in the game," Gooden said. "Like all of us, he's making himself better all the time."

Gooden scored 15 points in Wednesday's KU 101-92 alumni victory over members of the current Jayhawk team.

"It was great to see all these fans come out to see us again," Gooden said of the crowd of 2,000. He was relieved, however, to see one person missing.

"I had four turnovers. Coach Williams would have gotten on me for that," Gooden quipped of his KU coach, Roy Williams.

¢ Big money: It's easy to see why C.J. Henry decided to forgo a basketball scholarship at KU for a pro baseball career.

The Daily Oklahoman reported this week that the Putnam City (Okla.) High two-sport standout's first contract with the New York Yankees pays him a $1.575 million signing bonus.

Starting today, Henry, the son of ex-Jayhawk Carl Henry, will play shortstop for the Gulf Coast League Yankees rookie team in Tampa, Fla.

He'll earn the league's standard salary of $1,100 per month.

Henry, the 17th pick in baseball's June draft, had planned to play hoops at KU had he dropped past the fifth round in the draft.

¢ Draft plans: Former KU player Wayne Simien is planning to watch the NBA Draft on Tuesday at his Leavenworth home, then will head to a local church for a celebration.

ESPN.com's latest mock draft, released Thursday, has Simien being tapped in the first round (24th overall) by Houston.

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