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April 24, 2008

Jayhawks, Tigers lose plenty of youth

All seven underclassmen who started in the NCAA Tournament Championship game between Kansas and Memphis have declared their intentions to enter the NBA Draft.

Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier of the Tigers and Mario Chalmers of the Jayhawks were the latest to say they would test the waters. All three announced Wednesday.

"Both Antonio and Robert approached me about putting their names in the NBA Draft, and I support them in their decision," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "This is good for them because they can work out for teams and see where they stand and find out about their strengths and weaknesses.

"As with Derrick (Rose) and Chris (Douglas-Roberts, the other Tigers underclassmen to declare), I am happy for Antonio and Robert that they are pursuing a dream they've had since they were kids. They have worked hard to reach this point, and I want to offer support any way I can."

Chalmers joins early entry teammates Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur.

"If it doesn't work out positively, then I'll come back and help us win another national championship," said Chalmers, whose clutch 3-pointer in the waning seconds against the Tigers put the game into overtime, where the Jayhawks prevailed 75-68. "If I hear anything that's not in the first round, I'll just come back."

Of the seven, Anderson and Dozier would appear to be making the most questionable decisions. It's possible neither gets drafted; if either or both do, it almost assuredly would be in the second round.

With Rose, Douglas-Roberts and senior Joey Dorsey moving on, Anderson and Dozier would play bigger roles next season. It's easy to imagine Dozier blossoming into a 15-point, eight-rebounds-per-game player next season. And they needn't worry about the hole at point guard created by Rose's departure. Calipari has secured a commitment from Tyreke Evans, Rivals.com's No. 3 point guard and sixth overall prospect in the nation.

C-USA'S LEADING SCORER IN TOUGH SPOT

UTEP guard Stefon Jackson, Conference USA's leading scorer this season with a 23.6-points-per-game average, was arrested last week on charges of hindering apprehension or prosecution, a third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

An El Paso Sheriff's Office report said Jackson lied to authorities concerning the whereabouts of his cousin, Willie Harden Jr. Harden, of Philadelphia. Harden was being sought by authorities on six felony warrants, including two for attempted homicide with a handgun.

The report says Jackson first told sheriffs he had no idea where his cousin was, then said he hadn't seen him in two weeks. He later changed that story to say Harden had rented a room at the Mesa Inn Hotel and he had seen him two days prior. The authorities checked with hotel management, who told them Jackson had rented the room.

Harden eventually was taken into custody when authorities located him at an El Paso Wendy's. According to the report, Harden stated that Jackson rented the hotel room for him and let him stay at his current residence.

UTEP has suspended Jackson indefinitely until the matter is resolved by police. Jackson had been considering early entry to the NBA Draft, but it's hard to believe a team would consider taking him at this point. His best option is to hope he can work his way clear of the charges or get them reduced and stay with the Miners, who went 19-14 last season.

WANTED: POINT GUARDS FOR SEC

Tennessee doesn't have to replace anyone at point guard, but coach Bruce Pearl desperately wants more and steadier production there. Kentucky must replace Ramel Bradley (15.9 ppg, 3.4 apg).

Each team has signed a point guard late.

The Vols nabbed Daniel West, a Rivals.com three-star prospect out of Saginaw (Mich.) High School. West (6-1/165) helped his high school team win the Class A state championship with 21 points and eight assists in the final. West averaged 15 points, 11 assists and six steals as a senior, and because he didn't play much summer ball, he could be an underrated prospect.

"There is probably no position more important to look for a champion than at point guard," said Pearl, who lamented the play of Ramar Smith and Jordan Howell down the stretch this past season. "What Daniel has accomplished at Saginaw High School speaks for itself. He has all of the qualities of a good point guard. He makes people better by distributing the basketball. He has the ability to score and he can make plays when the game is on the line. Defensively, his ability to anticipate and steal the ball should really help our press."

West will have every opportunity to play prominently from the outset, if not start.

Kentucky turned to the junior college ranks to nab Kevin Galloway, who helped propel College of Southern Idaho to a 30-2 mark last season. Galloway, who is 6-6, averaged 8.4 points, 8.6 assists (fourth nationally) and 4.1 rebounds. He's a former Rivals.com three-star prospect with great size and versatility for a point guard. It's fair to say he has a skill set similar to that of five-star freshman signee DeAndre Liggins and current Wildcat Derrick Jasper.

Galloway, a Sacramento native, chose USC out of high school. He played in 13 games for the Trojans, averaging 2.8 points, 2.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game.

"I am really excited about Kevin," UK coach Billy Gillispie. "He is a multi-dimensional player. He is tall, long and athletic, and he has experience. His team was considered to be the best junior college team in the country last year, even though they suffered an upset in the regional.

"I think he is going to give us speed. He has the ability to pass the basketball, and I think he will put stats up in a lot of different areas. He's a good shooter. He's probably not as confident as he needs to be, but that is one of the things he will continue to work on before he gets here. I think he will be a major addition to our team."

ARIZONA REASSIGNS O'NEILL

Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood announced Wednesday that interim coach Kevin O'Neill has been reassigned to duties within the athletic department for the remainder of the fiscal year.

O'Neill, 51, took over for Lute Olson when Olson took a leave of absence. O'Neill will serve as an assistant to the athletic director until June 30. "Kevin and I will sit down in mid-June to determine the next step," Livengood said.

Olson held a news conference April 1 to announce his return as coach, effective immediately. O'Neill's reassignment opens a vacancy on Olson's staff.

The Wildcats went 19-15 under O'Neill this past season and earned the school's 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid, the longest active streak in the nation.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.



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