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Archive for Friday, March 20, 1998

KANSAS COULD EVENTUALLY BE THE FINAL DESTINATION FOR LUKE AXTELL, WHO HAS ANNOUNCED PLANS TO LEAVE TEXAS AFTER ONE SEASON.

March 20, 1998

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Luke Axtell may continue his college basketball career at Kansas.

Axtell, a 6-foot-9 freshman guard/forward who has received his release from his scholarship at the University of Texas, is definitely interested in KU, his mother confirmed Thursday night.

``We definitely respect (KU coach) Roy Williams and his program. If Luke hadn't committed to Texas so early (just before his junior season at Austin, Texas, Westlake High), Kansas definitely would have been one of the schools he would have considered,'' Mollie Axtell said.

``Roy Williams is one of the finest individuals in coaching. Kansas will definitely be one of the schools considered.''

Axtell's mother said Luke would put together a list of possible schools then make visits, likely after the Final Four.

On Wednesday, Axtell's grandfather told the Dallas Morning News his grandson would ``strongly consider Kansas.''

``I wouldn't think we'd move real fast,'' Mollie Axtell said. ``We have to deal with this grim situation here right now.''

The Axtells were shocked to hear an Austin radio station reveal Luke's academic progress report earlier this week, after he had been suspended for academic reasons by UT coach Tom Penders. The family has been assured the school will investigate the release of the progress report

The public tumult began Tuesday, when UT issued a statement saying Penders had placed Axtell on academic suspension. On Wednesday, a radio broadcaster read from the player's academic report on the air.

``Someone in the athletic department has chosen to make confidential information public regarding Luke's grades and interim progress reports, some of which are false,'' Mollie said in a prepared statement.

``We have been told this is a violation of federal law. We have discussed their improprieties with (UT athletic director) DeLoss Dodds. We have been assured by Dodds that this issue has been referred to the university's legal counsel and is under investigation,'' the statement said.

Axtell also said freshman guard Bernard Smith, sophomore Gabe Muoneke and 7-foot freshman Chris Mihm, a high school teammate of Axtell's at Austin Westlake High, were unhappy with Penders and were considering leaving UT. Mihm also considered KU his junior year in high school.

Penders, who's vacationing on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, said in a phone interview that Axtell ``refused to go to study hall or meet with tutors and his performance has been indicative of that. Our players know they have to take care of the academic side of things before they take care of basketball.''

If he were to transfer to KU, Axtell would have to sit one year in accordance with Big 12 and NCAA transfer rules.

Scope for McGrath: C.B. McGrath is the sole Kansas men's basketball player who will undergo postseason surgery to repair injuries sustained this season.

McGrath, a 5-foot-11 senior from Topeka, will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Wednesday at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, KU officials said Thursday.

The outpatient surgery will repair some cartilage damage.

Junior pivot T.J. Pugh, who has a stress fracture in his right foot, will wear a walking boot the next six weeks. Pugh wore the boot earlier this season while sitting out eight games because of the stress fracture.

Inserting a pin in Pugh's ankle has been considered as an option if the fracture does not completely heal in the future.

Also, junior forward Lester Earl will soon have three screws removed from his right ankle. The screws were inserted last May. Earl, who experienced some knee pain this season, will not undergo arthroscopic surgery.

Freshman guard Kenny Gregory will not need back surgery. In fact, his back was feeling much better during the postseason than it had much of the regular season.

Murray State to consider Doherty?: Look for Kansas assistant coach Matt Doherty to emerge as a candidate for the Murray State job if Racers' coach Mark Gottfried bolts for Alabama. Kentucky media sources report Murray State officials have inquired about Doherty.

Doherty also could be considered for the Seton Hall job if Tommy Amaker heads to Michigan.

  • More recruiting: Kevin Houston, a 6-5, 225-pound guard from Seward County CC, tells Insider's Report he is definitely interested in Kansas. A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Houston has taken one visit to St. Bonaventure and will visit Colorado State in April. He's also considering Wisconsin and St. John's. ... Rashard Lewis, 6-11 from Alief, Texas, lists Kansas and Florida State as his favorite colleges. However, he tells Insider's Report he's leaning toward entering the NBA Draft.

  • The Associated Press contributed information in this story.

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