Tourney venue in Vegas unknown

The Las Vegas Invitational men’s basketball tournament, set for Thanksgiving week 2006, continues to take shape.

Kansas University will play Florida on Nov. 25, possibly at the Las Vegas Convention Center, though tourney organizer Chris Spencer tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal he isn’t giving up hope of landing UNLV’s Thomas and Mack Center or smaller Cox Pavilion as a venue.

The rest of the eight-team round-robin field: Ball State, Western Kentucky, Hartford, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tennessee State and Prairie View.

It has not been announced which two of the six teams will travel to Lawrence to play KU in round-robin games during the early part of Thanksgiving week. KU will play a third team in the field on Friday, Nov. 24, in Vegas, the day before the marquee game versus Final Four participant Florida. All teams will play four games, but only one counts against the schedule.

Cincinnati-based Spencer, as well as other promoters, have battled the NCAA in court for five years trying to get a change in the “2 in 4 rule,” which had limited teams to playing in a maximum of two exempt events every four years. The NCAA is expected to pass a rule in April that will allow all teams to play in an exempt event every year.

“Everything I’m hearing says it’s a go, but until I see it, I’ll wait before celebrating,” Spencer told the Review-Journal.

UNLV plans to sponsor its own four-team tournament in December and is working on the field.

“I’m not real confident at this point we can get in (UNLV’s facilities),” Spencer told the Review-Journal. “But maybe we’ll catch a break.”

KU senior associate athletic director Larry Keating, who is in charge of KU’s schedule, won’t comment until contracts are signed. He did say the Vegas Convention Center conceivably could be set up to seat 5,000 to 6,000 fans for the basketball tourney.

¢ Wildcats seek recruiting bonanza: It looks like Kansas State coach Bob Huggins will get more than an assistant coach in former Charlotte aide Dalonte Hill. reports that Hill will bring with him Michael Beasley, the No. 3-ranked player in the Class of 2007 who previously had committed orally to Charlotte, largely because of Hill.

Beasley is a 6-10, 220-pounder who will play one more year at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.

Rivals said Beasley could be part of one of the top recruiting hauls in history if K-State also lands Ohio prep teammates O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker, the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the Class of ’07.’s Gregg Doyel reports that Huggins might hire Dwaine Barnes as his director of basketball operations. Barnes is AAU coach of Mayo and Walker. Doyel said prep junior guards Mayo and Walker were future NBA All-Stars most compared to Jason Kidd and Vince Carter. They are expected to stay in college just one season.