May 05, 2004

UConn freshman class transferring out

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Two freshmen on Connecticut's national championship team have decided to transfer, leaving coach Geno Auriemma's powerhouse program without a senior class in 2007.

Liz Sherwood, a 6-foot-4 center from Castle Rock, Colo., is considering programs closer to home at Colorado and Colorado State. She also has expressed interest in Vanderbilt and Fresno State, team officials said.

Kiana Robinson, a 5-8 guard from Brandon, Fla., is considering enrolling at Florida State, Alabama, Louisiana Tech and Texas.

Sherwood and Robinson were part of a three-player recruiting class that included 5-7 guard Kia Wright from Amityville, N.Y., but Wright left UConn last summer before starting her freshman year.

Auriemma had no senior class last year after Kennitra Johnson -- his only recruit for the class of 2003 -- transferred to a Division II school in Indiana after her sophomore season, but he's never had an exodus this big this before.

``This is a unique situation, the first time since I've been here at Connecticut,'' Auriemma said. ``Sometimes you just make mistakes and it's best that you just fix them and move on.''

The Huskies have won five national titles since 1995 and capped their third straight last month with a win over archrival Tennessee. Sherwood and Robinson played behind a talented group of sophomores Ann Strother, Barbara Turner and Wilnett Crockett. Strother and Turner are starters and Crockett is a solid contributor in the post.

The Huskies also lost senior All-American Diana Taurasi. Next season's senior class includes Ashley Battle, a speedy guard known for her defensive play, and 6-3 post player Jessica Moore, who tore a knee ligament in the NCAA title game but is expected to recover in time for the season.

Auriemma rebuilds next season with three highly touted recruits, including 6-1 forward Charde Houston of San Diego, the California state girls' scoring leader.

In 25 games last season, Sherwood averaged 4.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 8.5 minutes a game. She did not play in the Huskies' final four NCAA tournament games.

``The expectations that we as coaches had for Liz and what Liz had in mind were two different things,'' Auriemma said. ``So it was obvious it was not going to work for either of us. We wish her the best.''

Robinson averaged 5.1 minutes over 18 games, all in a reserve role.

Duke's Livingston declares for NBA draft

DURHAM, N.C. -- One of Duke's most promising prospects may never put on a Blue Devil uniform.

Six-foot-7 point guard Shaun Livingston declared himself eligible for the NBA draft Monday. With the decision, Livingston becomes the first Duke signee ever to forgo a collegiate career completely in favor of the NBA.

"He contacted [coach Mike] Krzyzewski [Monday]," said Chuck Weston, the Peoria Central High School athletic director. "He does not have an agent."

By not hiring an agent, Livingston maintains his college eligibility. Unlike college players who must withdraw from the draft prior to the June 17 deadline, Livingston can go through the draft and still attend Duke as long as he does not enlist the services of an agent. Such a move, however, is considered unlikely.

According to Livingston's grandfather Frank, he, Shaun and father Reggie Livingston have yet to sit down and discuss the decision.

Frank Livingston indicated that there is still a possibility that his grandson would opt for the Blue Devils after all. Livingston has been vociferous in his encouragement for Shaun to go to college.

"I think he needs to go to college a year at least because he's too immature for the NBA," he said. "I think there's a good chance that he's going to come back to Duke when he finds out if he's immature like I'm telling him."

Livingston said that Deng's decision to jump to the NBA had a minor impact on his choice. Both Deng and Livingston are projected as top-five picks in the upcoming draft. Many speculate that they will be the first two players chosen after Connecticut center Emeka Okafor and Atlanta prepster Dwight Howard.

"I can't say that it didn't [affect me]," Livingston told the Peoria Journal-Star Monday in reference to Deng's decision. "It wasn't a main factor, but the chance to play with him would have been great."

However, the final decision came after talking with Chicago trainer Tim Grover, an elite workout guru who has trained Michael Jordan, among others.

"The deciding factor was the opportunity in front of me," Livingston told the Journal-Star. "I've based my life on seizing the moment."

Livingston also mentioned in the Peoria Journal-Star article that he would not be attending the Chicago pre-draft camp at the Moody Bible Institute, instead choosing to have individual workouts.

Livingston averaged 17 points and six assists per game last year in leading Peoria Central to its second consecutive state championship. Blessed with uncommon height, vision and passing abilities, Livingston is the nation's consensus No. 2 high school player.

The decision was part of a Black Monday of sorts for college basketball. In addition to Livingston, two other highly rated prep players, 6-foot-5 wing J.R. Smith and 6-foot-9 power forward Al Jefferson, declared for the draft.

If both Livingston and Deng remain in the draft, Duke will have just eight scholarship players for the 2004-05 season.

Majerus joins ESPN as college hoops analyst

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) -- Former Utah coach Rick Majerus is joining ESPN as a college basketball analyst.

Majerus led the Utes for 15 seasons before leaving them in January because of heart problems.

His Utah teams made 10 trips to the NCAA tournament, including an appearance in the 1998 national championship game.

Majerus, vacationing in Hawaii, said in a conference call Tuesday that he feels good and wanted to take the network job to stay close to the sport.

``I really am very lucky, because if they put this job out on one of those reality shows there'd be a line from Los Angeles to New York to sign up for the position I have,'' he said.

Majerus is not interested in getting back into coaching any time soon. Instead, he wants to give his new profession a shot.

``I'm not going to entertain any prospect of going back to coaching now,'' he said. ``I always wanted to go into broadcasting. I'm going to see if I like it.''

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