Late start no handicap for ex-Laker King at GW

On Men's Basketball

January 30, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

He starred at Lake Clifton High and signed a letter of intent with George Washington, but his introduction to college was put on hold by academics. He finally got the standardized test score that would grant him immediate eligibility, joined the Colonials at the end of the first semester and made an immediate splash in the Atlantic 10.

Shawnta Rogers? Yes, but that scenario also describes the path to GW taken by the 5-foot-4 "Nut's" newest backcourt mate, Mike King.

The Colonials slipped to 15-14 last year, their worst record in eight seasons under Mike Jarvis, and there was an obvious shortcoming at shooting guard, where Kwame Evans had starred for four seasons. Evans had prepped at Southern, and Jarvis returned to Baltimore City to handle a spot that went unfilled last season.

King was a first-team All-Metro player for the Lakers last season, but spent the fall semester at St. Thomas More Academy in Oakdale, Conn., while working on beefing up his SAT score. When it finally came, he seamlessly moved from prep school to Foggy Bottom, thanks to Rogers, who had been the senior star when King was a sophomore at Lake Clifton.

"He made the transition a lot easier," King said of Rogers. "He's been through the same thing, and I listen to him because he's been there. It's the same thing on the court. We don't even have to talk. He knows where I'm going to be all the time, and I know where he's going to be."

GW's 78-73 upset of Xavier didn't get much play because it happened the same night Maryland knocked off then-No. 1 North Carolina. The Colonials lost leading scorer Yegor Mescheriakov to a sprained ankle, but King got them into overtime with two free throws with no time showing on the clock, and scored six of their 10 points in the extra session.

King scored 22 in his first collegiate start, and is averaging 13.3. The 6-foot-5 freshman will get his fourth start in tomorrow's (2 p.m.) homecoming game against Virginia Tech.

"I would have expected him to do this if he had been here from the start in September, but under the circumstances, what Mike has done is amazing," Jarvis said. "The thing I like about Mike more than anything else is that he plays defense. He moves well without the ball, but he has to become a little more aggressive going to the basket."

Despite a 17-3 record, the program's best start in 44 seasons, GW remains unranked. Besides Xavier, its other notable win was over Maryland in the championship game of the Franklin National Bank Classic. Rogers was the tournament's MVP, and he has gone on to average 14.5 points on a career-best 43.5 percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

Jarvis expected his top newcomer to come from Baltimore, but Calvert Hall's Pat Ngongba, who sat out last season because of dTC academics, played only 10 minutes in the Colonials' last game after starting 12 of the first 19.

Hawks weren't forever

It's a mild upset that the Colonials lead the West Division of the A-10, and there's also a surprise in the East, where St. Joseph's (7-9, 1-6) is fifth among six teams. The Hawks' run to the Sweet 16 last season made coach Phil Martelli a folk hero, but he's not having as much fun this winter.

Arthur "Yah" Davis, a 6-4 sophomore guard, was ineligible for the fall semester, and didn't take care of his academics then. He won't play this year. Damian Reid, a 6-9 forward who was the Hawks' top recruit, never got past the NCAA Clearinghouse for Academic Eligibility, and they won't be going to the NCAA tournament this time.

Hoops played there, too

Youngstown (Ohio) State has won four NCAA Division I-AA football championships in the 1990s, but it has never been confused for a basketball school. The Penguins have had two winning seasons since they moved up to Division I in 1981, but they now have a team that could get the school its first NCAA basketball berth.

Coach Dan Peters returned just three players from a 9-18 team, but four freshmen and a junior-college transfer have helped Youngstown State to a 13-5 start, 6-2 in the Mid-Continent Conference. The Penguins already have won at two-time champion Valparaiso, where junior DeVon Lewis shut down MCC Player of the Year Bryce Drew.

Et cetera

Kansas forward Raef LaFrentz didn't exactly appear rusty when he returned from a nine-game absence forced by a broken bone in his right hand. He made 13 of his 18 shots en route to 31 points and 15 rebounds in a rout of Texas Tech. Lester Earl is playing for the Jayhawks, despite admitting to the NCAA that he took illegal gifts from LSU. The NCAA granted him immunity, his testimony could put the Tigers on probation and it might also cost them one of the nation's top recruits, 6-9 Stromile Swift of Shreveport.

Planting the seeds

First weekly prediction on what the NCAA's top 16 seeds will look like when the 64-team field is announced March 8:

East.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Southeast

1. N. Carolina .. .. .. ...1. Duke

2. Connecticut .. .. .. ...2. Arizona

3. Mich. State .. .. .. ...3. Cincinnati

4. Princeton .. .. .. .. ..4. Mississippi

Midwest .. .. .. .. .. .. .West

1. Kansas .. .. .. .. .. ..1. Stanford

2. Utah .. .. .. .. .. .. .2. Kentucky

3. UCLA .. .. .. .. .. .. .3. Purdue

4. Arkansas .. .. .. .. ...4. New Mexico

Pub Date: 1/30/98

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