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Alexander Wolff
March 02, 1987
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March 02, 1987

College Basketball

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Question (posed by a fan at Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum earlier this season, on a hand-painted sign): IF GOD WAS A TAR HEEL, WHY DID HE PUT CHAPEL HILL IN ORANGE COUNTY?

Answer of sorts (after the blue-and-orange-clad Tigers. 5-0 in ACC road play this season but 0-31 alltime at Carolina before losing there again last week 96-80): Because He knew the Heels could handle it.

Nevada-Las Vegas is renowned for salvaging itinerant types, but UC-Irvine is tops in turning out transfers. Consider these five former Anteaters, who are now digesting more elegant fare: at forward. Northern Arizona's Anthony Burgess (10.8 points per game, 60% shooting) and Ronnie Grandison of New Orleans (17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds per game); at guard, Boris King of Nevada-Reno (18.1 ppg) and San Jose State's Rodney Scott (6.0 ppg); and at center, Arizona's Tom Tolbert (14.4 points, 6.8 rebounds), who says, "Me and [Irvine] Coach [Bill] Mulligan didn't exactly see eye to eye. But then, that's not surprising since I'm 6'8" and he's 5'9"."


Even as UNLV cleans up both in and out of the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference—the Rebs are 5-1 in intersectional games, their only loss a controversial one-pointer at Oklahoma—the decline of the rest of the West continues apace. Take the nine other PCAA teams, add the 35 members of the WAC, Big Sky, WCAC and Pac-10, and you'll find only four teams—UCLA, BYU, UTEP and Cal—that have beaten an upper-division team from the Big Ten, Big East, Big Eight, ACC or SEC.

And don't overlook U.S. International and Eastern Washington, a pair of independents that demonstrated their grasp of the game by bludgeoning each other on Feb. 14 with 63 fouls. Final score: 88-79, USIU. Attendance: 92, and that's only if you include the seven players who ended up on the pine with five fouls each.


Amateur talent scouts may have already concluded what the NBA scouting director Marty Blake now makes semiofficial: The pros consider the upcoming draft one from which they could catch pneumonia. It won't produce a lot of immediate stars, Blake says, but "it's a draft of David Robinson, a second tier of Reggie Williams, Kenny Smith and Horace Grant and then a lot of people who may help their clubs three or four years down the road."

Without considering underclassmen who might take early leave (the suspicion is that if Kansas coach Larry Brown leaves for the pros, Danny Manning will too), here's an early look at some players likely to be among the seven so-called lottery picks, based on interviews with Blake and several other NBA player-personnel types. Watch them as they jockey for position during postseason play:

The U.S.S. Robinson almost certainly will be the No. 1 pick, despite his requisite two-year Navy hitch. Says Blake: "I don't waste my time going to see him play. I know he can play."

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