Testing NBA draft can be costly

Agents getting involved proves troublesome to players, can lead to suspensions by NCAA

College Basketball

National notebook


Pops Mensah-Bonsu just sat three games.

Charlie Villanueva was hit for six in 2003.

Will Randolph Morris even play for Kentucky this season?

College players can test the NBA waters and return to campus if their draft prospects aren't good. The problem comes when they let an agent or team pick up their expenses at a workout. The NCAA cops make kids pay for that no-no, by reimbursing the benefits they received and serving prorated suspensions.

Josh Boone got his chance at Connecticut two years ago when Villanueva was ruled ineligible for his attendance at an NBA tryout. Villanueva's case was argued for the Huskies by Rick Evrard, a former NCAA employee who has become a hired gun in eligibility matters.

Evrard has been retained by Kentucky to handle the Morris mess.

After a mediocre freshman season, the 6-foot-10 Morris considered the NBA draft, then withdrew his name from consideration. His biggest mistake was letting the SFX sports agency make the announcement. If he had an arrangement with an agent, he can't play in college. As Kentucky and the NCAA go round and round on the issue, the Wildcats will play North Carolina tomorrow without Morris.

Wouldn't it be great if Kentucky met George Washington in the NCAA tournament? Then Morris and Mensah-Bonsu could trade elbows and tryout horror stories.

Mensah-Bonsu sat out the Colonials' past three games for violating the same NCAA rule that has Morris in trouble. According to the NCAA, players receiving between $300 and $500 in benefits that they should have paid on their own have to sit out 10 percent of their team's schedule, which coincides with the three-game suspension Mensah-Bonsu just completed.

The 6-9, 240-pound Mensah-Bonsu will return against Boston University tonight, and should be sharp come Monday, when the Colonials meet Maryland in the BB&T Classic.

Practices at GW include Cheyenne Moore, a 6-6 forward who helped Clemson to three improbable wins over the Terps last season. Moore is sitting out this season, and will have three left with the Colonials. He has family in Baltimore and teamed with Boone in 2002-03, at West Nottingham Academy in Cecil County.

Bucknell on rise

Most successful alumni write a check to their alma mater.

Jay Wright is doing Bucknell a favor by taking No. 4 Villanova there next Tuesday.

Wright played for the Bison in the early 1980s, when they were a member of the old East Coast Conference and Princeton was the biggest nonconference visitor he can remember being lured to Lewisburg. Wright was a Bucknell freshman when current Bison coach Pat Flannery was a senior, and a few summers back they agreed to a two-for-one deal.

That handshake was made long before Bucknell made Patriot League history last March, when it beat Kansas in the NCAA tournament. To prove it wasn't a fluke, a Bison team that returns all five starters took down Syracuse at the Carrier Dome two weeks ago.

"I knew Bucknell was going to be good when we set up this series, but I didn't expect them to be this good," Wright said. "If I knew then what I know now ... I'm stuck with it."

Villanova isn't worrying about Bucknell just yet. It's home tomorrow against No. 5 Oklahoma.

Shane Clark will become eligible for Villanova in time for its Dec. 22 game against La Salle. Clark had signed with Maryland but switched schools after NCAA clearinghouse issues dragged out his enrollment in College Park.

Out West

Washington got a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament last March, but Gonzaga still rules the Evergreen State. Adam Morrison and the sixth-ranked Zags go to Seattle on Sunday night looking for their eighth straight win over the Huskies. Gonzaga coach Mark Few was an assistant when that run began in 1998-99, an Elite Eight season that remains the high-water mark for the Zags.

Few replaced Dan Monson. Think Monson ever wishes he had stayed in Spokane, instead of taking the Big Ten reclamation job at Minnesota? paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com



No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 4 Villanova, tomorrow 5 p.m. ESPN -- If you enjoy chess matches, check out the Wildcats' four-guard circus against the Sooners' inside brutes, Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout. It's great preparation for Villanova, which has to check Connecticut and company in the Big East.


Indiana center Marco Killingsworth -- Duke's Shelden Williams was the national Defensive Player of the Year last season, and was supposed to be its most complete big man this time around. He got torched Wednesday night when Killingsworth, a transfer from Auburn, got a career-high 34 points and won the rebound battle. Was early foul trouble for Williams and Josh McRoberts part of Duke's plan?


Vanderbilt -- The Commodores beat Georgetown at MCI Center, and passed Oregon at the buzzer on a running 30-footer by Mario Moore. Coach Kevin Stallings has five players averaging in double figures, including 6-foot-7 Memphis native Derrick Byars, a transfer who wasted two desultory years at Virginia. A win over Cincinnati tomorrow would make Vandy 6-0.


Loyola -- Ah, the vagaries of the RPI in November. While the Sagarin ratings in USA Today have the Greyhounds at No. 245, they began the week among the Sweet 16 in assorted replicas of the NCAA's formula, a skewed RPI that took took a beating as Loyola played American and season-opening victim Towson lost to Norfolk State. Who needs a computer when the Greyhounds can go 4-0 for the first time since 1986 with a win at Mount St. Mary's tomorrow? The state's oldest rivalry began in 1910.

Paul McMullen

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