UM isn't alone in Francis watch

Recruit Gaines eager to know NBA plans, too

January 26, 1999|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Clifton "Reece" Gaines is among the basketball players watching the Steve Francis waiting game.

Gaines, a 6-foot-5 guard from Madison, Wis., with roots in Baltimore, plans to make a recruiting visit to Maryland around the Terps' Feb. 6 game against Virginia. The chances of his signing a letter of intent with Maryland in the late period from April 7 to May 15 probably hinge on playing time next season and whether Francis stays with the Terps or leaves for the NBA.

The rumor mill regarding Francis has worked around the clock over the last week. Francis, who considered turning pro out of Allegany College, has recently talked of returning to Maryland. The junior guard and coach Gary Williams vehemently denied an ESPN report that he already has told the Terps' staff that he'll leave after this season.

Francis' departure after one year at Maryland nonetheless remains a strong possibility, and the Terps are recruiting with that scenario in mind. Gaines' father said that Maryland's overtures have not included a definitive statement regarding Francis' fu ture.

"One of the [Maryland] coaches said that the way Francis is playing, it's possible that he could go to the NBA next year," Clyde Gaines said of the Terp, who is averaging 16.2 points and 4.7 assists. "It's not like they said that he's told them anything, but with everything that's going on with him, it's something to consider."

Clyde Gaines graduated from Lake Clifton High in 1976 and played on some powerful teams there. He then played for Wisconsin and settled in Madison, where his son has grown into a highly sought combo guard. Reece Gaines had 32 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in a big rivalry win Friday night.

Gaines planned on a recruiting visit to Maryland last fall, but lost interest when the Terps got an early commitment from Drew Nicholas, a shooting guard from Hempstead, N.Y. Maryland's next recruiting class also will include point guard Steve Blake, but Gaines has resumed a dialogue with the Terps again.

Gaines already has visited Louisville, Memphis, Saint Louis and Wisconsin.

NOTE: Forward Terence Morris was named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week after helping the Terps to two victories. The sophomore from Frederick's Thomas Johnson High scored 26 points, including the game-winning basket, in Maryland's 81-79 overtime win against Clemson on Sunday. He scored 20 in Maryland's 77-62 win over Georgia Tech last Wednesday.

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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