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June 29, 2006

Buckeyes hoping to have Oden for UNC game

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Note to North Carolina fans: Don't stop dreaming up ways to rattle Greg Oden just yet.

The Indianapolis Star reported that the 7-foot prep phenom, who signed with Ohio State in the fall, is expected to be out for six months after surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right wrist last week. That would put him back around mid-December, after the highly anticipated meeting between Ohio State and North Carolina on Nov. 29 in Chapel Hill the marquee event of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Tar Heels and Buckeyes reeled in Rivals.com's No. 1 and No. 2-ranked recruiting classes this year and are expected to be ranked in the preseason top 10.

Oden hasn't spoken publicly since the surgery, but one of the people who knows him best said it's possible he could be playing against the Tar Heels.

"The six months is a rough guess," said longtime Lawrence North High assistant coach Ralph Scott, who worked with Oden for the last four years. "It really depends on how (the wrist) heals and progresses. Greg is such a strong kid and this is the first time he has ever been injured seriously. His spirits are still very high and if his rehab goes well he may very well be back in time for the UNC game."

The surgery came as a surprise to many. Oden played in the McDonald's All-American game on Mar. 29 without showing any sign of pain or discomfort.

Oden first injured the wrist during the early stages of the state tournament this past season as Lawrence North was making its march to a second consecutive state title. He began putting a wrap around the wrist but aggravated the injury in the title game.

"Greg landed on the wrist the first time and he began having an aching pain. Then he landed it on badly again," Scott said. "After that, we took a wait-and-see approach. They didn't exactly know what was wrong with it and he kept it in a stretch wrap. Once it became obvious that it wasn't healing properly, he decided to have surgery."

Scott said Oden isn't particularly concerned with the injury and he won't begin the physical part of his rehab for a "few more weeks." Right now, the big man is busy soaking up the life of a college freshman. He and former Lawrence North point guard and fellow five-star prospect Mike Conley both began summer classes at OSU on Monday.

Class of 2006 Recruiting Rankings
1. North Carolina
2. Ohio State
3. Texas
4. Connecticut
5. Duke
6. Tennessee
7. Washington
8. Georgia Tech
9. Louisville
10. Wake Forest
Complete Rankings
"I saw Greg last week and he was very upbeat," Scott said. "He was very positive about everything and really excited about school. He couldn't wait to get on campus and start being a college student."

Another Cardinal departs
After signing 12 recruits in the last two years, Louisville wasn't expected to be much of a player when it came to the class of 2007, but that could be changing.

Small forward Chad Millard has asked for his release after one season at the U of L, freeing up at least one scholarship for recruiting guru Rick Pitino. Millard is looking at Iowa, Iowa State, Southern Illinois, New Hampshire and Notheastern. A former three-star recruit, he played in all but two games last season, averaging 2.3 ppg.

Millard is the second player to ask Pitino for a release this year. Shooting guard Bryan Harvey one of the most high-profile transfers still available left in February.

A former four-star guard who was ranked the No. 37 prospect in the class of 2005, Harvey is in no rush to pick a college again but does want to make sure his next destination is no farther than a short flight away from his home in the Los Angeles area.

"I want to stay on the West Coast,and Fresno State and Nevada are at the top of my list right now," Harvey told Rivals.com

New Mexico State has also been mentioned as a possible destination. Aggies coach Reggie Theus recruited Harvey when he was an assistant at Louisville.

Harvey, who was beaten out for a starting job by Terrence Williams, played in 18 games, averaging 2.1 ppg.

Big 12 freshmen put up big numbers
The Global Games were held at Southern Methodist University this past week, and no player had more hype surrounding him than Kevin Durant. And the Texas signee showed exactly why.

Rivals.com's No. 2 overall prospect played in just two of the American team's five games, but that's all he needed to rack up 50 points, 20 rebounds and eight steals (although he did fail to record an assist in 64 minutes of play). That production helped the U.S. capture a bronze medal and finish with a 4-1 record in a 10-team tournament that featured other Division I signees and prospects from Africa, Argentina, Canada, Lithuania, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Russia, Ukraine and Serbia.

Future Longhorn Damion James one of six other Big 12 signees on the American team put together double-doubles in his two games, scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds against Russia and pouring in 18 points and adding 13 boards against Serbia.

Derrick Roland, part of Texas A&M's eight-man recruiting class, was a steady offensive force, averaging 14.8 ppg. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard exploded for 24 points against Africa.

Miami-bound Lawrence Gilbert showed off his dangerous shooting touch versus Canada, hitting seven of 14 3-pointers and finishing with a game-high 28 points.

Missouri freshman Keon Lawrence wasn't invited to the Global Games, but he showed an ability to go on big scoring tears at the Demtrious Johnson Charitable Foundation All-Star Game on Saturday in St. Louis, piling up a game-high 35 points and earning MVP honors. The performance was a very welcome sight for Tigers fans who had long worried the three-star guard out of Newark, N.J., would wind up at another school.

Lawrence originally committed to the Tigers when Quin Snyder was their coach, and he talked about looking around after Snyder was pushed out and replaced by Mike Anderson. But Lawrence has enrolled into summer classes at Missouri, although he is still awaiting word on his eligibility from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Kansas' prized recruit Darrell Arthur is on campus as well and took part in the KU annual alumni camp game on Wednesday, which featured former Jayhawk greats Billy Thomas and Aaron Miles. Arthur scored 10 points and produced one of the game's biggest highlights, grabbing a Miles miss in midair and slamming it down with power.

Coaching changes
College of Charleston athletic director Jerry Baker has begun another coaching search. The Southern Conference school introduced Gregg Marshall as their next head coach at a press conference on Wednesday, but in a quick and strange twist of events, Marshall has returned to Winthrop, where he has compiled a 165-78 record and led the Big South school to six NCAA tournaments.

Marshall, whose name was linked to the opening at N.C. State, talked about how tough leaving Winthrop was at the press conference and how he struggled with the choice.

Whoever the C of C finds as a replacement will inherit big expectations. Tom Herrion was fired after compiling an 80-38 record and the school paid a $787,000 buyout to get rid of him.

Larry Krystkowiak left Montana recently to become an assistant for the Milwaukee Bucks. Former assistant Wayne Tinkle is replacing Krystkowiak.

New Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel may have found a recruiting edge by hiring former Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes to join his staff. While searching for a job, Barnes was also out evaluating prospects during dead periods, heading out to major AAU tournaments like the Memorial Day Classic in Nashville while other Division I coaches had to stay away.

Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie is looking to fill two vacancies on his staff, and Arkansas-Fort Smith coach Jeremy Cox has emerged as a candidate. Cox was an assistant at Paris (Tex.) Junior College in 1992-93 and at the University of San Antonio (Tex.) from 1993-97. Gillispie may also be considering Aggies graduate assistant Jerrance Howard, who played for him at Illinois.

Virginia coach Dave Leitao is considering filling an opening on his staff with Boston University assistant and former Cavaliers guard Jason Williford.

Iowa coach Steve Alford (one year) and California coach Ben Braun (two years) both received recent extensions, pushing their contracts to 2010 and 2011. Alford's base salary was also increased to $500,000, which is an increase of 16 percent.

Scheduling scoop
Texas A&M, which played a soft non-conference schedule last season (not a single opponent was in the top 100 of the RPI), will be playing back-to-back road games next season against two Final Four teams, LSU and UCLA. Dates have not been released.

Former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino, who led the Wildcats on a shocking run to the 1985 national title, will be making a return to the Philadelphia school. Northwood University, an NAIA school in West Palm Beach, Fla., where Massimino is the new coach, will make a road trip to 'Nova next season. The two schools have agreed to play one game, although the date has yet to be determined.

Massimino ended a two-year hiatus from the coaching ranks to be Northwood's first coach. The 2006-07 season will the Seahawks' first.

Former Virginia player and coach Jeff Jones will be making his first appearance at the ACC school since the Cavaliers fired him in 1998. American University, where Jones has coached the last six seasons, will face UVa in the new John Paul Jones Arena next season. The date of the game has yet to be determined.

Take note

  • Arizona's rising sophomore Marcus Williams, who seriously considered leaving early for the NBA, broke the single-game scoring record in the Tucson (Ariz.) Summer Pro League last Friday with 58 points and 10 rebounds on Friday.

  • New Arizona State coach Herb Sendek convinced boosters to donate $4 million at a recent dinner function for the Presidents Club.

  • Instead of heading overseas this summer, Louisville will be taking a 10-day tour in Ottawa in early August. They will face a handful of Canadian-based teams, including the University of Ottawa.

  • DePaul fans might not want to give up on Wesley Green just yet. The highly recruited big man spent most of his first three seasons battling injures, playing in just 30 games and scoring just 6.4 ppg. But he has been spending the offseason working out with a personal trainer and New York Knicks center Eddy Curry.

  • Rutgers guard Courtney Nelson, a transfer from Richmond, injured his wrist in the Star-Ledger College Player Summer League and is expected to be out for weeks.

    Andrew Skwara is the national college basketball writer for Rivals.com, and he files his national notebook every Thursday. To send him a question or comment for his weekly mailbag, email him at askwara@rivals.com.

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