Sunday, August 15, 1999

BASKETBALL INSIDER


Dayton recruit likely in the clear

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Brooks Hall figures he's past the point of no exit. If the NCAA were planning to force him to play basketball at some school other than Dayton, they surely would have done something by now.

        Hall's recruitment by UD has been under investigation by the NCAA since April. The school self-reported a possible violation that involved trustee Clayton Mathile loaning $32,000 to Hall's father for the purchase of a new home after Hall committed to the Flyers.

        Other college coaches speculated the violation was severe enough for the NCAA to rule Hall, an all-state, 6-foot-6 wing from Troy, ineligible to play for Dayton. The school initially claimed this was a secondary violation but now is admitting it could be considered major. Flyers coach Oliver Purnell always has maintained Hall would be OK to play.

        It's close enough to the start of school that any ruling otherwise could be classified as cruel and unusual punishment. “What I've heard is that the only thing they're waiting on is they're investigating over and over, making sure they're not missing anything,” Hall said. “That's their job. The longer it goes, the more confidence I have.”

        That's not to say Dayton will not be punished. The NCAA's investigation is continuing, and it's likely the school will need to go before the committee on infractions to address its conduct.

        Hall is the most highly regarded player Purnell has signed in five years as Flyers coach. Hall was recruited by Cincinnati, Kentucky and Michigan State. He has the wide assortment of gifts most often present in NBA-level second guards: shooting touch and range, ballhandling skill, agility and long limbs.

        If he is to make himself worth all the trouble, though, Hall knows he needs something else. He needs to be more selfish.

        “Sometimes I get knocked by people thinking I play lazy, but I don't think I have to score to be a good player,” Hall said. “I can get my shot off. Not that I'm going to hit it every time, but if I wanted to, I could be a gun. Who wants that on a team?”

        Well, Dayton does. And Hall said his high school coach, Barry Egan, used to bug him to shoot more often. The Flyers have had solid players under Purnell but few with such an array of talents. They can't afford him to blend into the crowd. They need him to score.

        “They're going to work with me, get me into that offensive-minded situation,” Hall said. “Because when I was growing up, I hated — I did not want to be looked at as a ballhog, a gunner, that kind of thing. So I think that may be a little bit of what's holding me back.”

        HEEL OF THE WEEK: The bad news for North Carolina might have been the best Kentucky has heard since Jamaal Magloire returned to school for his senior season.

        The Tar Heels were shot down by the top player on their list, the top player in the nation, 6-9 power forward Eddie Griffin of Philadelphia. He said he grew up dreaming of playing for the Tar Heels but committed this past week to Seton Hall, joining 5-8 point guard Andre Barrett of New York and 6-5 wing Marcus Toney-El of Orange, N.J., to form a recruiting class that will be tough for anyone else to beat.

        What does this have to do with the Wildcats? Plenty, in the case of point guard Omar Cook of New York.

        A top-20 prospect, Cook was considered the same sort of lock to attend Carolina as Griffin had been. With Griffin going elsewhere, Cook is believed to be taking a closer look at other schools on his list, including UK. Cook also will consider Miami, Connecticut, UCLA and Florida State.

        HAUL OF THE WEEK: With Griffin, Barrett and Toney-El added to a foundation that already included athletic 6-11 center Samuel Dalembert, Seton Hall has been rescued from Big East obscurity by coach Tom Amaker.

        Now, Seton Hall is looking for a fourth member of its incoming class and is able to be choosy. Amaker could add 6-3 Rashid Dunbar of Bayonne, N.J., a top-100 prospect and teammate of Toney-El and Griffin with the Tim Thomas Playaz club. “We're trying to find the right fit, someone who really wants to be here,” Amaker said. “We want someone who wants to be a part of a championship team.”

        When Amaker was an assistant at Duke, he rebuffed a number of schools interested in making him a head coach while he waited for what he considered to be the right opportunity. He surprised a lot of folks by picking Seton Hall, which was buried near the bottom of the Big East following P.J. Carlesimo's departure and thought not to have the resources or campus appeal to compete in the expanded league.

        “For an assistant coach 31 years old at the time ... I was very flattered a school like Seton Hall would be interested in me,” Amaker said. “I came from the Duke background, and this was a totally different animal, so to speak. I wanted for Tommy Amaker and our staff to be able to say we could do it over there, but also in an area that was different, urban, a city atmosphere, not so much all the ivy.”

        AROUND THE RIM: Of three key recruits signed by Houston coach Clyde Drexler last fall, only 6-8 forward George Williams will play for the Cougars this season. Point guard Antonio Falu and junior-college center Chris Anderson did not make it. This week, the Cougars also lost starting forward William Stringfellow, who averaged 9.6 rebounds and 7.3 points, to academic ineligibility.

        • Louisville accepted a commitment from Joe Sykes before the summer of 1998, and during the July evaluation period, he made the Cardinals look bad for being so eager to grab him. He was consistently overmatched. But that's no longer the Cardinals' problem. The school said this week he will not be joining the program this season.

       



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