Frontcourt prospects to visit

Wednesday, October 21, 1998

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier is about to take three swings at adding a forward to its fall recruiting class.

Ricky Wright, a 6-foot-7 forward from East Chicago (Ind.) Central, will visit Friday and Saturday. The weekend of Oct. 30, John Oden, a 6-8 forward from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, and John Smith, a 6-8 forward from South Charleston, W. Va., are scheduled to make official visits.

Wright missed last season with a broken leg, his coach Robert Miles said.

"He will be rated in our top 100," said Bob Gibbons of All Star Sports Report. "He's a terrific athlete who can play inside or out. He would be an excellent get, if Xavier can pull it off. The word on the street is that Michigan might be the school to beat for him."

Wright has visited Michigan and Purdue, and is scheduled to go to Villanova the weekend of Oct. 30.

"A tremendous athlete, really tough 15 feet to the hole, great rebounder for his size," said Van Coleman of FutureStars. "I think he has to extend his range as he gets into college. He has such great quickness.

"He'd be a stud in the Atlantic 10. He's a top-75 player nationally."

Oden visited Massachusetts last weekend and is going to Arizona State this weekend, said Preston Thomas, his former high school coach. Oden has already taken a trip to DePaul, and is to visit Villanova the week after he's at Xavier.

Thomas coaches at Cardinal Ritter High School in St. Louis, where Oden played as a sophomore. Last year, Oden moved to Phoenix to live with extended family and get into a better academic environment at Carl Hayden, Thomas said.

"He's very, very quick up and down the floor and plays above the rim," Coleman said of Oden.

"I really like him," Gibbons said. "John had a great summer. His stock really went up. He's very gifted. He's pushing 6-9. He's more inside-oriented than Ricky Wright. But he's got good perimeter skills. I would rate Oden slightly ahead of Ricky Wright."

Smith has visited West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Ohio University and expects to go to Rutgers this weekend, coach Robert Dawson said Tuesday. Smith averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds a game last season, but Dawson expects him to score more this year.

"He's got outstanding ability," Dawson said. "He jumps well, shoots well, has good parents, runs around with good people. He loves the weight room. He's got the full package. Probably his holdup right now is immaturity. He's only 17 years old."

"He's definitely a power forward type, a strong rebounder," Gibbons said. "I have him rated behind Oden and Wright, but only slightly.

"From Skip Prosser's perspective, if he can get any one of those three, he would be extremely happy because any of the three can give him an athletic power player, and that's what he's looking for."

Xavier already has verbal commitments from point guard Lionel Chalmers (Albany, N.Y.) and shooting guard David Young (New Castle, Pa.).

X FILES: Walk-on tryouts are at 6 p.m. today at Schmidt Fieldhouse. The coaches will probably pick two players . . . XU's exhibition games will be against a team from Hungary (Nov. 4) and Athletes in Action (Nov. 11) . . . Senior guard Lenny Brown returned to practice Monday after missing a day with an injured right ankle . . . ESPN Magazine was on campus Tuesday to shoot pictures of senior James Posey for an upcoming issue . . . NBA scouts from Dallas, Portland and Orlando watched Monday's practice.

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