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Archive for Wednesday, October 30, 2002

October 30, 2002

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Happy playing basketball at DePaul University, in his beloved hometown of Chicago, Marlon London says he has never second-guessed himself for leaving Kansas University.

Not even last March, when the Jayhawks reached the Final Four in what would have been the 6-foot-5 guard's senior season at KU.

"I've never looked back," said London, who returned to the Windy City, citing homesickness, after the 1999-2000 season, his sophomore campaign at KU.

"I still feel I made the right decision for myself. I'm happy. I'm really excited about my last go-around at the whole college basketball thing  but I still want KU to win, too."

London  who has stayed in touch with former teammates Terry Nooner, Nick Bradford and Drew Gooden  proved his KU loyalty last spring when he adopted the Jayhawks as his team to beat in the postseason.

"I try to root for KU as much as possible. Last year, people probably got tired of hearing me say they were going to win it all," London said of the Jayhawks, who went 33-4, falling to Maryland in the national semifinals at the Final Four in Atlanta.

"I told everybody, if I was a betting man, I'd bet on them. Unfortunately, it didn't happen, but I'm still proud of the effort they put forth. I still think they deserved to win it because coach (Roy) Williams deserves a national championship."

London  who played for Pat Kennedy at DePaul last year after sitting out a year in accordance with NCAA transfer rules, before Kennedy was replaced by former UConn assistant Dave Leitao this season  still has fond feelings for his first college coach.

"Coach Williams still sends cards to the house. When he went to Hawaii last year (for Maui Invitational), he sent a picture of the team to my parents. My dad has it hanging in his room," London said.

"Coach sends cards saying, 'How are you doing?' I haven't talked to him in a while, but hopefully I'll get up there for a weekend to say hi to everybody."

That weekend in Lawrence figures to come after his senior season.

Right now, London's lone focus is improving on his junior year, during which he averaged 4.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in just 18 games. He missed the final six games of the Demons' dismal 9-19 season after tearing a ligament above his right kneecap grabbing a rebound against Louisville.

London, whose best game was a 13-point outing versus Saint Louis, had surgery in June, returning to the court for pickup games at the start of the fall semester.

"I did a lot of work over the summer. I attacked it like they (doctors) told me to do," London said. "I'm ready to go out and be a leader and set the tone. Since it's my last go-around, I want to lead by example."

He realizes it's time to improve on his numbers. London  who averaged 4.1 points his frosh season and 3.2 his soph year at KU  hit just 27 of 73 shots (37 percent) last year, including making two of 18 three-pointers. London made 16 of 26 free throws (61.5 percent).

"I think I've got a good chance at starting and having a good year if I put forth my best effort. I've been working a lot on my game," London said. "Overall, I want a 20-win season so we can get to the tournament. I want to go back there, especially for my final year of college."

As far as players at his former school, London said he was impressed by the constant improvement by last year's team.

"They had a lot of good players. They were deep. They had a great year," London said. "The freshmen played well. I didn't know Wayne (Simien) was that good. He surprised me. (Keith) Langford was good. Kirk (Hinrich) and Nick (Collison) always put on a good show. They really ran with the ball.

"With the group coach had, he had to do that. It didn't surprise me at all. You've got to let 'em run. They'll be good again with Kirk and Nick as seniors."

Collison and Hinrich figure to be playing NBA basketball next year.

London?

"If professional basketball is not in my future, I plan to go in business with my godfather," said London, a communications major who will graduate next summer. "He's a big-time businessman in the Chicago area. He does a lot in the area."

An area London grew up in  he starred at St. Joseph's High  and has always enjoyed.

"School is five minutes from downtown," London said. "If we want to go out and do something there are places to go have fun. If I want to kick back, I can go home. I don't go home as much as I thought I would when I left KU. I go home to wash clothes, that's about it," he laughed.

"Personally I think I'll always stay the same. I have fun and try to not make too many enemies."

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Olson's number: New KU walk-on Brett Olson, 6-7, 213 pounds from Chanute, will wear jersey No. 3 this season.

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Recruiting update: Brian Butch, 6-11 from Appleton, Wis., will hold a press conference today to choose either KU, Wisconsin, Marquette or North Carolina. Several Internet services believe Wisconsin is the choice.

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