Tuesday, March 16, 1999
UC must fill holes on perimeter
BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Next year, the Cincinnati Bearcats will not have seven new guys. The question is whether they will have the right new guys to get them past the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament.
UC replaced more than half its roster after last season with enough talent to drive its way to a No.3 national ranking in early February. Coach Bob Huggins never was entirely comfortable with the level of inexperience on his team and should have more veterans to work with in 1999-2000, although there are weaknesses that need to be addressed.
The Bearcats seem likely to have at least one opening, with junior center Kenyon Martin considering an early departure for the NBA Draft.
NCAA sanctions will limit UC to no more than 12 scholarships for the 1999-2000 season. The Bearcats also imposed a restriction on themselves against signing junior-college players for this recruiting year, which will cost them an opportunity to add an experienced perimeter scorer.
It's hard to bring in very many freshmen that are gong to have that big an impact, Huggins said.
The Bearcats will have 6-foot-2 McDonald's All-American Kenny Satterfield of New York in their backcourt and will add 6-11 Cincinnati native B.J. Grove up front, although Grove will need to improve his physical conditioning. Wing Leonard Stokes of Buffalo, N.Y., has grown to 6-6 and could help back up small forward Pete Mickeal.
Satterfield probably will replace Melvin Levett at shooting guard, which means Steve Logan will have to progress at the point.
Center Donald Little will be a redshirt freshman, with a year to learn the system and develop his body. He was out since December with an elbow injury, but he practiced well during the season's final month.
As for perimeter scoring, UC remains a strong contender for McDonald's All-American DerMarr Johnson, a 6-9 wing at Maine Central Institute, although he still has not qualified for freshman eligibility.
His availability would be assured if the recent court decision against the NCAA's initial-eligibility rules removes those restrictions for the next freshman class. If Johnson is not able to compete in college next season, he is expected to enter the NBA Draft.
Another possibility is 6-4 Josh Kroenke of New Hampton (N.H.) Prep. Kroenke has the size and range to aid the Bearcats in the halfcourt game.