Archive for Saturday, May 20, 2000

NBA draft list inculdes KU signee

May 20, 2000


There were some surprises Friday none involving Kansas as the NBA released its list of underclassmen and high school seniors eligible for the 2000 NBA Draft.

KU signee DeShawn Stevenson's name, as expected, appeared on the list of 35 college and prep players declaring for the draft.

East St. Louis High senior forward Darius Miles was the only other high school player to declare.

In a stunning development, Mississippi State signee Mario Austin, who said he would enter the draft last week, changed his mind and will play college basketball.

Meanwhile, University of Cincinnati officials were shocked to see freshman guard Kenny Satterfield's name on the list. He recently had indicated he'd return to school.

Regarding Stevenson, says the 6-foot-5 guard may have to sweat it out at the draft, June 28, in Minneapolis.

In all, 20 international players applied, including several players 6-foot-11 and up, perhaps pushing some first-round bubble picks to the second round.

First-round picks receive multi-year guaranteed contracts; second round picks must make a team's roster to earn a salary.

"Scouts love DeShawn's athleticism on the perimeter and his potential," said. "But he's still a suspect shooter, enough so that he could go late in the first or in the second."

KU coach Roy Williams was asked to compare Stevenson to the last Jayhawk to declare early: forward Paul Pierce, who left KU after three years and was picked in the first round by the Boston Celtics:

"DeShawn is a better ballhandler now than Paul was when Paul left here," Williams said. "DeShawn played point guard half the time in high school.

"(But) DeShawn does not compare to Paul Pierce. He is not as ready as Paul Pierce. No. No. Paul was runner-up in the rookie of the year voting.

"Jonathan Bender was not ready either and he was the fifth pick in the draft last year."

Williams said Stevenson, "had the most gifts, he's maybe the most gifted player we recruited, definitely the most gifted since Paul."

All's quiet in Fresno: Williams did the media a big favor Monday by reporting Stevenson's decision to turn pro. Open and accommodating during the recruiting process, Stevenson and his mother, Genice Popps, hid from the media all week. In fact, as of Friday, no Fresno media outlet had been able to reach Stevenson to confirm his decision to turn pro.

Without Williams' confirmation, media outlets around the country would have been scrambling up until Friday, trying to unearth the player's final decision.

Williams said the Stevenson family resented seeing DeShawn's SAT scores in print and also became overwhelmed by the volume of phone calls to their Fresno home.

"When you have kids of your own take the SAT, you call the newspaper and tell them to put their scores in," Williams said. "The nature of your business will allow you to call to get some information. When you do it, somebody else feels they can call and all of a sudden they are getting (flooded with calls).

"I told Genice she caused part of the problem. She's so honest. She would be so nice, you'd think it was OK to call the next day. DeShawn Stevenson ... you know what he is? He's somebody's little boy and that's not the way he was treated."

Recruiting notes: Jamal Sampson, a 6-10 junior from Santa Ana, Calif., told High Major that North Carolina and Connecticut lead Syracuse, Kansas, Virginia, Stanford, UCLA and Arizona. He said he wants to play away from home. "UCLA is pretty much out," he said. Arizona also may be out after receiving a commitment from another junior center.

T.J. Ford, 5-11 from Sugar Land, Texas, says Texas, UCLA, Louisville, Houston, Kentucky, Duke and UConn have shown the most interest. Earlier, he said KU was on his list of schools.

Mike Fey, 6-10 of Olympia, Wash., said he's interested in UCLA, Syracuse, Kansas, Texas, Washington, Pepperdine and USC.

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