READY FOR PRIME TIME
The so-called high profile programs—those at North Carolina, Louisville, UNLV, Georgetown and the like—have a virtual monopoly on national television exposure. Look at the 65 regular-season games carried by the three major networks and you'll find that 20 teams are a part of about 85% of the telecasts. The same 20 teams are represented in more than 50% of the 161 regular-season games that appear on ESPN. What that means is that many deserving teams and players operate in obscurity, appreciated only by their local fans and the NBA scouts. Just so you know what you're missing, here are five players you probably haven't seen but would enjoy watching if you could:
•Cedric Ceballos of Cal State-Fullerton will make two appearances on ESPN this season, both of them after midnight EST. He is a late bloomer who didn't start in high school until the final game of his senior season but went on to lead Ventura College to the California state juco championship before enrolling at Fullerton.
Now, as a 6'7½", 195-pound senior, he's averaging 23.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and several NBA scouts per game. During a 72-64 overtime loss to UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 29, he got 33 points and 17 rebounds and was scrutinized by 13 scouts representing 11 NBA teams. They like his quickness, his leaping ability and his hands.
•Another Big West sleeper is Santa Barbara's 6'6" Eric McArthur, who uses his amazing 7'3" arm span to sweep the boards for an average of 13.9 rebounds, tops in the nation. He's also averaging 16.4 points and 3.2 blocks. "The thing I know he can do is jump quick," says Cleveland Cavalier general manager Wayne Embry. "Not many guys can block jump shots. He did it about three times in the [Jan. 29] Fullerton game."
A gangly 6'5" coming out of high school, McArthur had only one other scholarship offer, from UC Irvine, even though he had averaged 19.2 rebounds as a senior. "All his parts didn't seem to work together," says Santa Barbara coach Jerry Pimm. Even though he's short by NBA frontcourt standards, McArthur will get a chance to play.
"There are very few great rebounders—and he's a great one," says scout Scott Layden of the Utah Jazz. "It's more popular to be a scorer, but he does the work in the trenches."
•A.J. English of Virginia Union stands only 6'4½" but has a terrific vertical leap, and he can electrify crowds with a startling array of dunks. He also shoots well from the perimeter, as shown by his 48 three-pointers in 99 attempts as of Sunday, at which time he was averaging 32.5 points (tops in Division II) and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Among English's fans is coach Clarence (Bighouse) Gaines of Winston-Salem State, who coached him two summers ago on the U.S. team that won the Jones Cup in Taiwan. Although the team also featured Billy Owens and LeRon Ellis of Syracuse and Felton Spencer of Louisville, English was the team's leading scorer and MVP. "He can fill it up," says Gaines. "He shoots that old Sam Jones bank shot. He's a scorer, an assist man and a perfect team player."
•Duquesne's 3-18 record through Sunday was certainly no fault of Mark Stevenson, a 6'6" transfer from Notre Dame who averages 27.6 points per game. Stevenson often started during his three years with the Irish, but he was arrested for shoplifting in December 1987 and for underage drinking the next month. Although both charges were dropped in exchange for community service, Stevenson was suspended for four games, and he eventually transferred to Duquesne with only a year of eligibility remaining. "I felt bad for my family because my family didn't raise me like that," said Stevenson.
This season he has avoided trouble and scored 30 or more points six times, including 43 against West Virginia. "Everybody knows he's our go-to player," says Duquesne coach John Carroll, "and they still can't stop him."
•Chris Gatling signed with Pittsburgh out of Elizabeth (N.J.) High in 1986, but was a Prop 48 case as a freshman. After clashing with Panther coach Paul Evans, Gatling transferred to Old Dominion, where coach Tom Young convinced him that his classwork was just as important as his performance on court. "I don't think he liked himself until he got good grades," says Young. "That really helped his self-image."
As a sophomore last season, the 6'9", 215-pound Gatling was the surprise of the Sun Belt Conference, averaging 22.4 points and nine rebounds while connecting on 61.6% of his shots. This season, although Old Dominion was only 9-9 at week's end, Gatling's numbers have remained strong—19.9 scoring average, 9.7 rebounds and 59.9% shooting.
What makes Gatling's performance especially impressive is that he has a synthetic plate in his skull to protect an area injured in high school, when he fell off the hood of his father's van. "I think about it all the time," says Gatling. "I'm grateful that God gave me a second chance. I want to make the most of it."
REBELS WITHOUT A CLUE
Just when it seemed as if the news out of Las Vegas couldn't get any worse, doggone if the Runnin' Rebels didn't instigate an ugly fight last week. The trouble began with seven seconds left in UNLV's 124-90 rout of Utah State, when Rebel reserve forward Chris Jeter apparently head-butted the Aggies' Gary Patterson, leaving Patterson with a gash near his left eye that required 14 stitches to close. Then right after the game Jeter hit Utah State's Kendall Youngblood with a right cross, opening a cut that needed eight stitches.
The skirmish between Jeter and Youngblood provoked a full-scale brawl in which Moses Scurry, another Vegas sub, punched Utah State coach Kohn Smith, who last year after a loss to UNLV had commented about Vegas players driving "fancy cars." Scurry, you may recall, sat out the first semester on academic probation. (Scurry didn't participate in the Utah State game either, but attended in street clothes, because he was one of eight Rebel players who had been given one-game suspensions by the NCAA for not paying some hotel bill incidentals.) He hit Smith with a left jab and later said, "I didn't know he was the coach. He had a sweater on, and coaches normally wear suits."
Reacting with something less than outrage, UNLV athletic director Brad Rothermel suspended Jeter for three games and merely put Scurry on probation (though the Big West Conference later upped that to a one-game suspension). At week's end university president Robert Maxson finally sounded fed up. "I think it's time we hold the people that commit acts responsible," he said.
A little late isn't it, Mr. President?
Georgia Tech's 102-75 rout of North Carolina on Feb. 1 was coach Dean Smith's worst defeat since a 92-65 loss to Purdue in the 1969 NCAA semifinals....
The telecast of President Bush's State of the Union address on Jan. 31 was preempted by WOTV, the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., so the station could show the game between Calvin and Hope colleges, a couple of Division III archrivals from the western part of the state. Calvin won 77-76....
At week's end the combined record of the men's and women's teams at Division II Central Missouri State was 38-2. The men were 18-1, the women 20-1....
During LSU's 148-141 OT win over Loyola Marymount last Saturday, the electric typewriter that was being used to keep the running score burned out and had to be replaced before halftime.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
MEN: Jimmy Jackson, a 6'6" freshman forward at Ohio State, scored 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds in a 91-88 overtime win over 10th-ranked Louisville. In a 101-77 victory over Northwestern he had 26 points and seven rebounds.
WOMEN: Oberlin's Ann Gilbert, a 5'5" junior guard, had 42 points, eight rebounds and five steals in an 85-53 win over Earlham. Gilbert scored 29 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished off five assists in a 60-53 loss to Penn State-Behrend.
SMALL COLLEGE: Jeffrey McFadden, a 6'8" senior at Tarleton State of the NAIA, averaged 31 points and 17 rebounds in victories over Texas College (95-84), Dallas Baptist (77-61) and Sul Ross State (86-39). McFadden made 38 of 47 shots (81%).