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Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Shoe deal is factor in Durant decision

March 21, 2007

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— Word is Kobe Bryant has already called Kevin Durant on behalf of Nike and that a shoe deal ranging between $30 million and $50 million simply needs to be presented.

Last Thursday, Texas coach Rick Barnes was taunted by a friend in Spokane, Wash., who said during a shoot-around that there's no way Durant comes back for his sophomore year. Barnes replied, "I'll bet you a steak dinner he does come back."

But if Texas' 18-year-old prodigy turns down life in the NBA to take biology and travel to Manhattan, Kan., instead of taking leather-couch charters to Madison Square Garden and Staples Center next season, we will all be witnesses to a minor miracle.

Even Taras Brown, the man who sculpted Durant's game back in Seat Pleasant, Md., and the man Durant calls his godfather, said a potential shoe deal - not Durant's draft placement - would be what shoves Durant to the NBA.

"Kevin will go two or three years at Texas, if he could," Brown said before the season. "It won't be because Kevin Durant or (Ohio State's) Greg Oden want to go. The shoe companies will make them an offer where it's impossible not to go."

So where would Durant's departure for NBA riches leave Texas and Barnes? And was Durant's likely one-and-done season worth it?

Sure, Durant piled up points like no freshman in NCAA history - with the possible exception of LSU's Chris Jackson - and accounted for 32 percent of UT's scoring. But Durant didn't have enough help or experience around him to get out of the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

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