Archive for Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Lewis backs out of commitment

High school senior-to-be undecided; KU won’t keep offer open

August 9, 2005


Dwight Lewis has flip-flopped again.

Lewis, a 6-foot-5 high school senior-to-be from Metairie, La., who orally committed April 19 to play basketball at Kansas University, reneged April 20 then re-committed to KU on May 4, has for a second -- and final time -- withdrawn his oral commitment from the Jayhawk basketball program.

"I really don't want to get into details. He is re-opening his recruitment," Lewis' dad, Dwight, Sr., told the Journal-World on Monday. "Kansas is still being considered. Everything with Kansas is exactly the same as before. The staff is wonderful. There's not a problem.

"The main thing is Dwight wants to enjoy the recruiting process a little bit more. Before he took the approach just to get it over with. Now, he wants to take time to make a more informed decision."

Though KU officially remains on his list -- with LSU, Oklahoma, Florida, Miami, USC and others -- sources have told the Journal-World the Jayhawks no longer will consider Lewis for one of four available scholarships in the Class of 2006.

Also, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports today that LSU will not recruit the Archbishop Rummel High player.

"We are aware of the situation," KU coach Bill Self said, not able to comment on specific recruits in accordance with NCAA rules.

Lewis' decommitment, sources say, has nothing to do with KU's becoming involved in the recruitment of 6-6 Kansas City, Mo., native Brandon Rush.

Rush, who played the last two years at North Carolina's Mt. Zion Academy then pulled his name out of the NBA Draft, said he will visit KU as early as today.

Illinois, Indiana and KU are his current leaders. Rush visited Illinois late last week.

"I know he liked Illinois a lot," Rush's mom, Glenda, said Monday, "but he's going to keep his options open. He's just looking. He wants to visit Kansas. Bill Self said any day would be fine."

Rush also has had Kentucky and Missouri on his list, though of MU his mom said, "I don't think Missouri has any scholarships available."

KU has one scholarship available immediately and three more in the next recruiting year.

It's also been speculated Rush, the brother of NBA player Kareem Rush, might play a year in the NBA's developmental league.

"He hasn't told me for sure whether he's going to school or not going to school. I'd like him to go to school, but whatever he decides, it's his decision," Glenda said.

"I have nothing against KU, nothing," she added of the school her son JaRon considered before heading to UCLA. "I think it's a great place."

As far as Lewis ... there's plenty of speculation of why he backed out of his Jayhawk commitment.

One theory is Lewis, who saw his rating drop from No. 84 to 132 after faring poorly on the summer AAU circuit with the New Orleans Jazz -- one analyst said Lewis did not score a point or grab a rebound in one game with Self and hundreds of other coaches on hand at a tourney in Las Vegas -- now believes it will be tough to earn playing time at KU.

"They (KU coaches) were honest with him about what he needed to work on, and I don't think that went over well," a media representative in Louisiana said.

Another theory is that he wants to go to the same school as AAU point guard teammate D.J. Augustin, who is being recruited by LSU, Texas, Wake Forest and others.

"He was not going to play summer ball at all," Rummel High coach Steve Alfonso said of Lewis, who averaged 27.5 points and 9.7 rebounds last season. "He came down with (mononucleosis) late in the school year, and it takes a while to come back from that.

"He was going to use the summer to get back into it. He went with the (AAU) team, but didn't spend a lot of time with them, didn't practice a lot with them. He played OK, but still is not at full strength. Mono takes a lot of time to get the body right."

Alfonso said KU never pulled its scholarship offer from Lewis, who visited campus in May.

"They never withdrew the offer. He reopened the process," Alfonso said. "I don't know where the second thoughts came about."

He said the decision was made Friday or Saturday. Since then, "the phone has been ringing off the hook (from recruiters)," Alfonso said. "You name the school, they've called. Wherever he goes, he'll play. He's a 6-6 guard who can score. He just wants to make an informed decision about his future, make sure it's the right situation for him and go to the right school.

"The family is a good family. The kid is a good kid. The coaches of Kansas are very good and understanding."

Commenting on recruiting in general, Self said Monday the Jayhawks were looking for a "big guy and perimeter player." Up to two scholarships could be saved for the Class of 2007.

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