Gamecocks pick up transfer
Published: Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former Syracuse forward Mike Jones has joined the stellar list of South Carolina "Mr. Basketball" honorees who ultimately decided there's no place like home.
Jones, a 6-foot-8 freshman who left the Orangemen earlier this month, was admitted to South Carolina, he said in a statement Friday night.
Gamecocks coach Dave Odom could not talk about Jones' status since the player has yet to attend classes, something expected to occur next week.
The acceptance clears the way for the former Lower Richland standout to join the Gamecocks. Jones would be eligible to play sometime next December in South Carolina's first game following the fall semester.
"I can't tell you how happy I am to be back in Columbia and in school as a Gamecock," Jones said. "I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. But I look forward to the challenge and the opportunities."
Soon enough, Jones will take his place among former Palmetto State prep stars who first looked elsewhere for college, but decided that South Carolina was the place for them.
Zam "Buck" Fredrick III was named "Mr. Basketball" in 2004 at Calhoun County. After two so-so seasons at Georgia Tech, the 6-foot Fredrick transferred to South Carolina, where his father was an All-America and led the nation in scoring in 1980-81 with a 28.9 average.
In 2005, 5-9 Devan Downey of Chester High earned the "Mr. Basketball" trophy and signed to play at Cincinnati. But after one season — and the ouster of the coach he signed with, Bob Huggins before the year even began — Downey came back to his home state.
Both enrolled at the university in the spring. They'll sit out this season and suit up next November.
Jones adds a frontcourt finisher to the Gamecocks transfer mix.
He averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds as a Lower Richland senior to earn the Class 4A player of the year title. Despite heavy interest from the South Carolina staff, Jones signed with the Orangemen.
But Jones was homesick and sought more playing time, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has said. Jones averaged fewer than 7 minutes a game before leaving. Jones was also behind senior forward Demetris Nichols, a senior who has led the Big East Conference in scoring at 18.9 points a game.
Boeheim also said Jones was bothered by a hip injury sustained against Oklahoma State on Dec. 5.
"The fact is we would have liked to play him more, but he's playing behind Demetris, who's been our best player all year, and Mike's been hurt. He's missed more practices than any other player, and there were games when we couldn't play him because he was hurt," Boeheim told The Post-Standard of Syracuse.
Jones should give the Gamecocks a dose of height and athletic ability they'll need next season with 6-foot-9 center-forward Brandon Wallace playing his final season.
The Gamecocks (10-6) are suffering through one of the worst stretches in Odom's six seasons. They have lost four straight games by a combined 112 points. This past Tuesday night, their 87-49 loss to No. 25 Kentucky was the team's worst home blowout in 92 years.
Odom received a two-year contract extension earlier this month. At the time, athletic director Eric Hyman called this a "transitional year" for the basketball team with early loss of do-everything forward Renaldo Balkman to the NBA's New York Knicks.
"However, with the talented transfers and outstanding recruiting class on board, we are excited about the future" of the basketball program, Hyman continued.
It's a future that Jones may ultimately make even brighter.
Center Almamy Thiero was hospitalized with blood clots in his lungs and will be sidelined indefinitely.
Thiero's illness is the latest setback for the Dukes, who had five players shot on campus Sept. 17 — only one of whom is currently playing. Also, coach Ron Everhart spent five days in a hospital last month with a gastrointestinal problem and forward Kieron Achara missed six games with stress fractures in a foot.
The 6-foot-9, 255-pound Thiero, a backup inside player who transferred from Memphis, was admitted to Mercy Hospital after experiencing discomfort overnight. It is uncertain how long he will need treatment.
Thiero missed most of the 2003-04 season at Memphis because of the same problem.
"Fortunately, he got to the hospital in time for the proper tests to be run and he's resting comfortably," Everhart said. "I feel for Al because he is such a quality person who has fought through so much adversity in his career."
Thiero, who transferred as a graduate student and thus was eligible immediately this season, also had two leg operations while at Memphis. He sat out most of last season because of an anterior cruciate ligament injury, then needed knee surgery Oct. 9 after enrolling in Duquesne.
Thiero, from Mali, is averaging 2.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15 games for the Dukes.
Duquesne (5-10) remains without forwards Stuard Baldonado and Sam Ashaolu because of the shootings, and it remains uncertain if Ashaolu will play again. Two other players, Shawn James and Kojo Mensah, also missed considerable practice time due to shooting injuries but were ineligible this season after transferring from other Division I schools.
Sophomore guard Aaron Jackson is the only one of the five shooting victims who has played this season for the Dukes, who went 3-24 last season.
Guard Bobby Frasor will miss the fourth-ranked Tar Heels' game today against Georgia Tech with a nagging foot injury.
Coach Roy Williams expects, however, that star forward Tyler Hansbrough will be 100 percent. Hansbrough played with a sore back during the Tar Heels' 77-55 win over No. 19 Clemson on Wednesday.
"Count on him going full speed," Williams said.
Frasor, who started every game as a freshman last season, first suffered the stress injury to a bone in his right foot in December and missed six games before returning Jan. 3. He re-injured his foot during the first half of last Saturday's loss at Virginia Tech and sat out the Clemson game.
"I think it'd be identical to what we did last time — just wait until he starts feeling better," Williams said. "Is that going to be tomorrow? Is that going to be two weeks from now? Nobody knows except his little foot."
Frasor averaged 3.5 points and 2.4 assists in 11 games this season.
A men's basketball player at the University of Illinois-Chicago has filed a lawsuit that names coach Jimmy Collins, as well as other school officials, alleging that an assistant coach sexually harassed the player.
The lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday claims Luis Martinez was sexually harassed by Lynn Mitchem, an assistant coach for the Flames.
Mark Rosati, associate chancellor for public affairs at UIC, said Thursday that the university doesn't comment on litigation. He said Mitchem is on paid leave.
Martinez, a walk-on freshman, claims in the lawsuit that Mitchem put a hand on the player's bare chest in the locker room following a Dec. 19 game and made sexually suggestive comments.
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