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Archive for Friday, May 5, 2006

Woodling: Ervin back in big time

May 5, 2006

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Has the leopard changed its spots?

The leopard, in this case, would be Lauren Ervin, perhaps the most nomadic student-athlete of the 21st Century. You may remember Ervin from the days when she was a ballyhooed Kansas University basketball signee. That was three years ago.

One recruiting service ranked the 6-foot-3 Ervin as the second best college prospect in the country after she averaged 24 points and 18 rebounds for Inglewood (Calif.) High, which happened to be her third prep stop in three years.

When Ervin enrolled at KU in the summer of 2003, she was expected to help the Jayhawks' stagnating women's program return to a competitive level.

Yet Ervin was a disappointment on the floor and off. She did lead the Jayhawks in rebounding with a 6.8 average during the 2003-2004 season, but she never did become a starter.

Worse, Ervin helped precipitate a fight during a KU-Missouri game in Columbia, Mo., and was reprimanded by the Big 12 Conference. Oh, and coach Marian Washington suspended her for four games, reportedly for disciplinary reasons.

After Washington retired and Bonnie Henrickson took over, Ervin departed for her fifth school in five years. She chose UNLV which, not unexpectedly, trumpeted her arrival based on her prep pedigree. But Ervin wound up at a junior college in Utah instead and didn't play in 2004-2005.

Then last summer she surfaced at Mount San Antonio College in southern California, her seventh school in six years. To Ervin's credit, she finally had her act together. She was named a juco Kodak All-American after averaging more than 21 points and 13 rebounds in leading Mt. SAC to the California junior college championship.

Yes, but how was her deportment?

"As a coach, I've had some great persons and some great players in my 10 years, but Lauren is one of my favorites," Mt. SAC coach Laura Beeman said. "Kodak All-America says it all for her athleticism, but she is an outstanding person."

That may be classic coachspeak, but then again it appears Ervin's social skills may have finally caught up with her physical ability.

Anyhow, I know you're wondering about Ervin's eighth school in seven years. It's Arkansas. She signed with the Razorbacks last month, much to the delight of AU coach Susie Gardner.

"In spite of all her accolades, Lauren is a humble person," Gardner said, "but she is passionate about improving her game to be able to play in the SEC."

When your schedule contains home-and-home games with such traditional powers as Tennessee and Georgia, you had better be able to play.

Ervin learned while at Kansas that it was a long way from inner-city L.A. prep ball to the Big 12, and it may very well be just as long a journey from California juco ball to the tough SEC.

Now the question is: Can Lauren Ervin park her U-Haul in Fayetteville, Ark., and actually stay at one school two years in a row?

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