Johnson out of picture, UM Gaines watch grows

6-9 guard to Cincinnati

son of Lake Clifton star could take Francis' point

April 08, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Now that Maryland has apparently lost 6-foot-9 guard DerMarr Johnson to the University of Cincinnati, the Reece Gaines watch becomes even more important for the Terps as they try to bounce back from the loss of junior Steve Francis to the NBA draft.

Johnson, Parade magazine's national Player of the Year, made an oral commitment to Cincinnati this week, choosing the Bearcats out of a final four list that also included Maryland, Connecticut and North Carolina-Charlotte.

Johnson, who lives in Riverdale, Md., played at Maine Central Institute last season and was known for his three-point shooting and excellence off the dribble.

Johnson did not sign a national letter of intent with Cincinnati yesterday on the first day of the spring signing period and it is not known when he will sign.

Gaines, a gifted 6-5 point guard out of Madison, Wis., seems to be leaning toward Maryland over Louisville as he has pared his list to two schools by deciding not to attend Michigan or Wisconsin.

A final decision is expected from Gaines in the next couple of days. He averaged 24 points, six rebounds and five assists as a senior for a 20-4 West High School team in Madison last year.

Gaines has close ties to Baltimore, being the son of former Lake Clifton All-State point guard Arnold "Clyde" Gaines. The younger Gaines has returned often for visits with relatives while living in Madison, where his father works in student services for the University of Wisconsin.

Clyde Gaines received a scholarship to play for Wisconsin and has lived there since.

Reece Gaines has been in Washington the last two days preparing for tonight's Capital Classic at the MCI Center.

The younger Gaines will play for the Capital All-Stars against the U.S. All-Stars, even though he is from Wisconsin. That has become normal procedure for prospective Maryland recruits over the years.

The elder Gaines is coming to Washington for the game and said he is going to talk to his son about the "tough decision" he is facing.

"Steve Francis leaving obviously didn't hurt Maryland's chances," said Clyde Gaines. "Reece really likes Maryland and loves coming to Baltimore. He is a different kind of player than I was. I glided around the court and was faster than I looked. Reece is a little more athletic than I was, is extremely quick and jumps well. He likes to get his points, but he can do everything on the court."

MISSOURI: Quin Snyder got some advice from someone who knows a thing or two about coaching -- Mike Krzyzewski. The Duke coach told him to find a place worthy of his passion.

"Now it's my turn to show you I'm worthy of this passion," Snyder said yesterday after being hired to succeed Norm Stewart as Missouri's coach. "I'm unbelievably excited about this opportunity. It's something I've dreamed about."

Snyder, born the year Stewart began coaching at Missouri, was the top assistant and recruiting coordinator under Krzyzewski the last four seasons after playing for him from 1986 to '89.

At 32, he becomes the youngest coach in the Big 12 and follows a coach who resigned only six days earlier after winning 634 games in 32 seasons.

"I saw in our brief meeting that fire, that conviction, that can lead us to a higher plane," chancellor Richard Wallace said.

Snyder received a five-year contract and inherits a team that went 20-9 last season and lost to New Mexico in the first round of the NCAA tournament. He was the only one of the three finalists in Missouri's rapid-fire search with no head-coaching experience.

"I'm going to work like crazy," Snyder said. "I'm as hungry as it gets."

Other finalists were John Calipari, recently fired by the New Jersey Nets, and Bill Self of Tulsa.

CONNECTICUT: Khalid El-Amin is passing up a shot at the NBA draft and will return for his junior year, hoping to lead the Huskies to another title.

The 5-10 point guard helped UConn (36-2) to its first national championship with a 77-74 victory over Duke last week. It was the school's first trip to the Final Four.

"I think doing it a second time would be even better," El-Amin said. "I want to come back and try to relive the great memories and experiences we all shared in the recent NCAA championship."

Coach Jim Calhoun said the extra year will allow El-Amin to further develop.

GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets have signed two high school teammates from Louisiana to national letters of intent.

Coach Bobby Cremins said that swingman Clarence Moore and guard Ross Chouest signed yesterday.

Last season, the 6-6 Moore was named the Louisiana Player of the Year for Class 5A, the state's biggest. He averaged 23.4 points.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 4/08/99

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