Former Dunbar High All-American Michael Lloyd has signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Syracuse.
During an official visit to the Syracuse campus this past weekend, Lloyd signed with the Orangemen, choosing them over Maryland, Oklahoma and Florida State. But Lloyd said yesterday it was a mere formality.
"There wasn't never a doubt," he said from San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College. "I had made my decision during spring break when I was home and Coach [Jim] Boeheim visited me. If I had visited Syracuse early, I would have signed then. The situation is perfect for me.
"When I got there, I went to the Carrier Dome. I just started looking around at the 35,000-plus seats, and the thought just sent chills through my spine."
Boeheim couldn't be reached for comment. Pete Pompey, Lloyd's coach at Dunbar, also was unavailable yesterday.
Lloyd, 6 feet 2, a first-team junior college All-American, averaged 34.7 points for San Jacinto, which finished 15-14 this past season. He averaged 32.5 points as a freshman in 1992-93, when San Jacinto went 25-6. In both seasons, he played shooting guard.
With the departure of senior Adrian Autry, Lloyd becomes a candidate to start at point guard for Syracuse, which went 23-7 and reached the NCAA tournament's round of 16 this past season. Syracuse's only returning point guard, Lazarus Sims, averaged 0.5 points in 7.2 minutes per game in Big East play.
"It's really a situation that doesn't bother me," said Lloyd, who plans to major in human development at Syracuse. "Even though I spent a lot of time at the off guard, when it came down to critical situations late in the game, I had the ball. I have no problem with playing point guard as long as there's people to get the ball to, which there will be."
In his senior season at Dunbar, Lloyd alternated at both positions in a three-guard offense with Paul Banks and Cyrus "Diego" Jones.
That squad, which also included Keith Booth (Maryland) and Donta Bright (Massachusetts), went 29-0 and won the mythical national championship.
At the end of that season, Lloyd signed with Arkansas. But he failed to score the NCAA minimum of 700 on the Scholastic Assessment Test. Instead of sitting out at Arkansas for one season under Proposition 48, he opted to go to San Jacinto.
"They [Arkansas] stayed in contact, but I didn't feel right about the situation," Lloyd said. "With all the returning players, I didn't see much playing time. I have no regrets about with what I did."
Lloyd said coming back to the East Coast so his family and friends could see him play was a major factor, which helped eliminate Florida State and Oklahoma from his final list. He visited Oklahoma but said he wasn't sure of the situation. Two weeks ago, Sooners coach Billy Tubbs left for Texas Christian. Lloyd didn't visit Florida State.
He said that Maryland was a strong consideration, but he didn't hear much from the Terrapins after the Christmas break, when he visited the campus. He also said that he didn't want to be involved in a controversy with sophomore point guard Duane Simpkins, whose improved play was a key to Maryland's reaching the NCAA's round of 16 this year.
"Me and Duane have played together, and we're really good friends," he said. "My friends were telling me that I could start for Maryland, but he is the point guard, and I wouldn't want to be a part of any possible negative publicity."
Lloyd will get the opportunity to play in one of the country's premier conferences, the Big East, but says he's really looking forward to possibly playing against his old high school teammates, Bright and Booth.
"They [Booth and Bright] pretty much knew that Syracuse was the school for me," he said. "There was the possibility of playing with either one of them, but we want to make our mark at different places. I would love to play against them, especially with the NCAA tournament coming to Baltimore next season."