2. Duke. The Blue Devils have commitments from 6'2" Jason Williams of Metuchen, N.J., who blends an explosive first step with superb court vision, and 6'10" Casey Sanders of Tampa, a slashing power forward in the Marcus Camby mold. If Duke can add either 6'5" Michael Dunleavy Jr. from Portland or Alaska's 6'8" Carlos Boozer (who says he'll wait until spring to sign), many experts will rank this the No. 1 class in the nation.
3. Kansas. A year after missing out on several top targets, coach Roy Williams scored with 6'9" Nick Collison from Iowa Falls, 6'9" Andrew Gooden from El Cerrito, Calif., and should also sign 6'3" Kirk Hinrich from Sioux City, Iowa, who originally committed to Iowa State.
Florida, Virginia and Connecticut are also poised for first-rate recruiting hauls. North Carolina will move up die charts if Dunleavy and 6'4" Joe Forte, Bogans's backcourtmate at DeMatha, opt for Chapel Hill.
Jeff Ruland's Turnabout
Do As I Say, Not As I Did
Iona senior forward Kashif Hameed swears he is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but he is wilting under cross-examination. His coach and prosecutor, Jeff Rutland, is grilling Hameed about a report Ruland received that the player has been insufficiently diligent about attending class. "You're scamming me," Ruland says, as Hameed attempts to draw a Clintonesque distinction between late and absent. Then Ruland abruptly cuts off the questioning. "Let me put it this way," he says. "I'm gonna get you." Just like Rambo, only Ruland has bigger biceps.
What makes this scene noteworthy isn't so much the inquisition as it is the inquisitor. Ruland was a two-time All-America when he played at Iona from 1977-78 to '79-80, but he is the first to admit that he majored in cutting class (with a minor in bar-hopping). "I hated school, I really did," he says. Entering his first year as head coach at his alma mater, the 6'10", 290-pound Ruland is giving no slack when it comes to his players' academic obligations. During the first week of practice he kicked 6'5" guard Devonaire Deas, a blue-chip transfer from Florida State, off the team because Deas kept blowing off classes. "I'm just trying to get these guys to skip some of the mistakes I made," Ruland says. "If somebody had said to me, 'If you don't go to class, you're not going to play? that would have gotten my attention."
That isn't lip service. Ruland played for six years in the NBA-making the Ail-Star team twice—before injuries forced him to retire at age 28, but when he decided to get into coaching, he hit a snag. He didn't have a degree, having bypassed his senior year to turn pro. So in January 1990, Ruland, who lives in Medford, N.J., with his wife, Maureen, and their three daughters, reenrolled at Iona. For the next 18 months he sat in class with other undergraduates and worked to earn the 70 credits (out of 120) he needed to get his sheepskin. He graduated in June 1991.
"I still hated going to class," he says. "But for all of the things I achieved in basketball, getting my degree has been, next to my family, my greatest accomplishment." Ruland served three years as an assistant at Iona before assuming the top spot last April after Tim Welsh left to become coach at Providence.
As an assistant Ruland used to put the entire team through 6 a.m. wind sprints if one player so much as missed a class. He's still very much the enforcer, peering into classrooms, staying in touch with teachers, monitoring study hall. With the Gaels bringing back two all-league selections, Hameed and junior forward Tariq Kirksay, from last year's MAAC champions. Ruland has every reason to look forward to his inaugural season as coach. "I'm right where I want to be," he says.
No doubt his players will be where he wants them to be, too.