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Archive for Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Beasley not a lock for K-State

Blue-chip center says Charlotte, others still in running despite Huggins hiring player’s mentor

May 31, 2006

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— When Michael Beasley is at Oak Hill Academy, he sometimes gazes out at the Blue Ridge Mountains and thinks.

A former Charlotte 49ers commitment, he enjoys the serenity of the campus far away from his home near Washington. Looking at the mountains in Mouth of Wilson, Va., allows him to clear his head of the bustle of the city.

His mother, Fatima Smith, loves Charlotte so much that Beasley said she is shopping for a home there. But his basketball mentor, Dalonte Hill, has left Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz's staff to assist Bob Huggins at Kansas State.

Though Beasley said Hill's move isn't the reason he rescinded his commitment, he said it was a factor. He said Charlotte remains one of his top choices and said there is an 80 percent chance he will enroll there.

He said he is considering all schools, from Connecticut to William & Mary.

"Charlotte is my top school right now," Beasley said Sunday at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions tournament. "I know more about Charlotte than I know about any other school. I'm not going to rush anything."

With Huggins and Hill at Kansas State, there is talk of a dream recruiting class that would include Beasley and Cincinnati-based O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker, all top-10 players in the class of 2007.

Beasley has to consider the advice of Hill and his mother, whom he has honored with a tattoo on his left biceps.

"She doesn't want somebody else to make the decision for me," Beasley said. "She wants me to be smart about that. If I go to a school somebody else wants me to go to, I have to live with that. They don]t have to live with it."

Beasley might have been the most high-profile commitment in Charlotte's history when he pledged to Lutz at age 15. At 6-foot-10, he is a no-nonsense, left-handed junior forward who can get to the rim and finish in the post.

Unlike many high-profile forwards in AAU games, he seldom wastes time dribbling aimlessly on the perimeter or jacking up three-pointers, though he sometimes disappears in games.

Some of Beasley's development is owed to Hill, his former AAU coach who has known him since he was 11. Early in his career, Beasley was a terrible free-throw shooter.

He improved after Hill constantly implored him to practice free throws, once sending him to the gym to shoot 1,000 of them.

"We're like brothers," Beasley said. "We've got a bond."

Beasley said not to assume he is going to Kansas State just because Hill is there. He also downplayed the rumor about him and Mayo and Walker, who were teammates at North College Hill High near Cincinnati as juniors.

Mayo, a 6-4 point guard, is the top-ranked player in the nation. Walker is the 6-5 forward on the receiving - and dunking - end of many of Mayo's passes.

Gibbons said signing those three would be like hitting the triple jackpot at Kansas State. He believes it's just as likely the three would play together at a prep school next season, then go to the NBA after one year.

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