Themselves eligible for the NBA draft, North Carolina juniors Raymond Felton and Sean May and freshman Marvin Williams, who led the Tar Heels to their first national title in 12 years. "I've coached a lot of great players, and these three here are at the top of the list," said an emotional coach Roy Williams at the players' joint press conference last Friday. "I probably haven't yelled at these three guys 10 times all year."
The trio joins Rashad McCants, a junior swingman who announced his plans to jump to the NBA three weeks ago, in leaving the champs early. Instead of forming what could have been one of the most formidable college teams in recent years, the four will likely instead become just the second quartet of teammates chosen in the first round in the same year. (Duke had four players selected in 1999.)
The mass exodus leaves Roy Williams looking uphill. His top returning scorer is David Noel, who averaged 3.9 points per game, and next season's roster will have only one player who has started a game. Seldom-used Quentin Thomas started last year's season opener when Felton (left, passing to May) was suspended for playing in an uncertified summer league game. While the Heels don't figure to challenge Duke--which has four starters returning--for the ACC crown, they probably have enough talent to get back to the NCAA tournament to defend their title. Williams has signed a strong incoming class that includes three McDonald's All-Americans, and he has continued to recruit top 50 forward Uche Echefu, one of the few elite high school seniors who hasn't already committed to a school. "I'd love to find two or three [more recruits] but I don't know if we can," said Williams, who nonetheless remained optimistic. "If the program was devastated," he joked, "I'd be leaving with them."
Of taking steroids and of advising a former business partner to gamble on major league games in which he was playing, former outfielder Lenny Dykstra. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Lindsay Jones alleged in a lawsuit over a car-wash business he used to own with Dykstra that, in lieu of a salary Dykstra--then a member of the Phillies--gave him tips on Philadelphia games. (Jones did not allege that Dykstra himself bet on games or ever told him to bet against the Phillies.) In an affidavit that is part of the suit, bodybuilder and convicted drug dealer Jeff Scott claimed that Dykstra used steroids for eight years. Scott, who claims he injected Dykstra, said Dykstra stepped up his use before the 1993 season because it was the final year of his contract. After nearly doubling his career high in home runs that year with 19 and leading the Phillies to the World Series, Dykstra (above) signed a $25 million deal with Philadelphia after the season, but he never hit more than five homers in a season again. A lawyer for Dykstra called the gambling claims "a fabricated story" and dismissed the steroid allegations, saying that Scott was not "reliable or credible."
To a breeding farm in Kentucky, 3-year-old filly Sweet Catomine, who was expected to be a contender in next Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Sweet Catomine was the favorite in last month's Santa Anita Derby but finished fifth. Afterward owner Marty Wygod revealed that the horse had bled during her final prerace workout and that he had smuggled her out of her barn five days before the race and placed her in a hyperbaric chamber at a clinic 140 miles away. Last Saturday, Wygod, 65, was cleared of wrongdoing by the Hollywood Park stewards but still faces a lawsuit by a bettor who alleges that he committed fraud by not disclosing Catomine's problems before the race. "There's no merit to the suit whatsoever," Wygod said. "I hate ambulance chasers."
As the new driver for Keith Coleman Racing's Busch Series team, Mark Green, who replaces Shawna Robinson. With the change Green inherits Robinson's number 23 car--and enters into an ill-fitting relationship. Robinson was sponsored by Vassarette, a women's lingerie company, whose logo adorns the hood of what used to be her Chevrolet. It's not the first time Green, who finished 22nd at the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 last Saturday, has endorsed a product he presumably doesn't use. He previously drove cars sponsored by Love FiFi, an online lingerie shop, and Boudreaux' Butt Paste, a diaper-rash cream.
By NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, that the 2005--06 season will not start on time if there's no labor agreement in place. Bettman, who canceled the 2004--05 season in February, had previously insisted that the league would open for business as scheduled in October--with replacements filling in for locked-out union players if necessary. Last week's announcement wasn't quite a conciliatory gesture, but by backing off the scab threat, Bettman signaled that his first priority is negotiating a new agreement with the players' union. Talks between the sides, who have agreed in principle on some form of salary cap, have been sporadic during the eight-month lockout; Bettman said last week he hopes they'll negotiate twice a week until a deal is done.
After a stroke, at age 74, Houston Nutt Sr., patriarch of the first family of Arkansas sports. Born with a slight hearing deficiency that worsened with age, Nutt coached basketball at the Arkansas School for the Deaf for 31 years. His four sons went on to become coaches: Houston Jr. is football coach at Arkansas, where his brother Danny coaches running backs; Dickey coaches basketball at Arkansas State; Dennis is the basketball coach at Texas State. "I really love to go out on a field and watch kids play," Nutt said in 1999. "I always thought sports was the best thing you can have in life."