It's a rare town not on Donovan's list as a recruiter

But Florida not neglected

`Flintstones' exit right

Notebook

April 04, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

His recruiting trails have taken him from South Dakota to New Hampshire to tiny Shellman, Ga., in search of top-notch talent.

There are, however, a few places Florida coach Billy Donovan, one of the most tireless recruiters in college basketball, will not go to find a player.

Two of them are Los Angeles, where UCLA is located, and Durham, N.C., home of powerhouse Duke.

So he goes to such places as Mitchell, S.D., where he found starting forward Mike Miller.

"We try to pick guys that we feel would want to leave their geographic region or have to leave their geographic regions," Donovan said.

"But if there is a great player that would be very difficult for us to sign, we're not going to go chasing him down. I think we do a great job of recruiting in state."

Such was the case with Teddy Dupay of Fort Myers, Fla., who committed to Florida after his sophomore year in high school. Dupay has started all 35 games this season, averaging nine points a game. The Gators have in-state players on their roster.

"Part of my decision to come to Florida was I wanted to play in the Final Four, coach in the Final Four and play in the NBA," Dupay said. "What better person to show me the way to do those things than coach Donovan."

Flint farewells

Last night's game marked the end of stellar college careers for two of the "Flintstones."

Point guard Mateen Cleaves and forward Morris Peterson, both of Flint, Mich., helped lead Michigan State to back-to-back Final Four appearances.

Both considered going to the NBA last year, but the roommates decided to return for one more shot at the national title.

"It was a matter of wanting to be around the Spartan family," Peterson said. "These guys are like brothers to me. Hopefully, I can get a sixth year and come back." The third member of the Flintstones, Charlie Bell, is a junior and is expected back next season.

"We've had a great time this year," Cleaves said. "Even if we wouldn't have won the Big Ten title or made the Final Four, it would have been special to just hang out with the guys for another year."

What will Miller do?

There has been a lot of speculation about Miller's future plans.

Miller has led the team in points this tournament, averaging 13.8 a game, along with 8.6 rebounds.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore was named first-team All-SEC by the coaches this season, and was MVP of the East Regional. More importantly, he is the primary reason why the Gators played in the title game, hitting a last-second shot against Butler in the first round that gave Florida a one-point win.

"It's really tough because, for my whole life, I've dreamed of playing in the NBA," Miller said. "It's been a goal my whole life."

Speculation was heightened when it was learned early this week that agent Andy Miller had been in contact with Mike Miller by phone about 20 times.

"To say I have a legitimate shot to play in the NBA, it makes it tough not to think about it. And now, to keep people away from you, it's impossible."

Temporary Spartans fans

The North Carolina fans bolted back home, but there was a good amount of Wisconsin red at the RCA Dome last night.

In Michigan State, Wisconsin had a fellow Big 10 member playing.

The Badgers lost four times to the Spartans this season, including Friday's 71-59 defeat. Michigan State had the majority of fan support at the arena.

It's good every time

LaVall Jordan, a junior guard from Butler, missed two chances to give his school the upset of Florida in the first round of the tournament. The Bulldogs' leading scorer missed a 12-foot jump shot as regulation expired, then missed two free throws with eight seconds left in overtime.

He then watched helplessly as Miller drove the lane and made a running floater as time ran out, giving the Gators their 69-68 victory.

"Every time I watch the replay, I still think it's not going to go in," Jordan said of Miller's shot. "But every time, it does."

Even-year streak

Florida went into the championship game trying to continue a streak of NCAA champions from the Southeastern Conference in every even-numbered year since 1994.

Arkansas won the title in 1994 and Kentucky was the champion in 1996 and 1998. Florida beat Arkansas and split a pair of games with Kentucky this season.

Donovan, 34, was trying to become the third-youngest coach to win an NCAA crown. The only others younger than Donovan to win titles were Indiana's Branch McCracken, who was 31 in 1940, when the Hoosiers won the first of their five NCAA championships; and Wisconsin's Harold Foster, who was 34 in 1941, the last time the Badgers reached the Final Four before this year.

"I've been fortunate to be around a lot of good coaches and a lot of good people throughout my life. But I don't look at myself as being maybe a new-breed coach," said Donovan.

"I think people maybe say that because of my being 34 years old."

Wire reports contributed to this article.

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