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Harrick bounces back ... with Nuggets


I'm glad to see former Georgia coach Jim Harrick has signed on to be a special consultant for the NBA's Denver Nuggets. Harrick made mistakes at Georgia, leading to his resignation in March. But nobody has ever questioned his basketball knowledge.

Jim Harrick
As I wrote in my upcoming book, "Living a Dream," Harrick has a wealth of basketball experience and a great hoops IQ. But the unbelievable pressure to win sometimes gets the better of coaches. I believe he will be a success in helping rebuild the Denver franchise.

Harrick has put together a foundation of how to play the game everywhere he has been. The professional level is an ideal place for him to operate.

I'm happy that a former Bruin, Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe, has given Harrick an opportunity. People make mistakes in their lives and obviously deserve chances to bounce back. I hope Harrick takes advantage of this opportunity.

Rice High School in New York City has produced a number of outstanding players over the years. I think back to Felipe Lopez, who was maligned because there were such expectations after he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated before ever playing a game for St. John's.

Rice High has produced a host of players who have made it on the collegiate level. Now Kansas has received an oral commitment from a potential star guard out of Rice, 6-1 Russell Robinson.

According to insiders, Robinson is an outstanding perimeter player, and he was sought by a number of big-time programs. Kansas has a tradition that excites people. Think about Allen Field House and the winning program. The beat simply goes on for new coach Bill Self, who has come in and done a phenomenal job capturing the adulation of the fans.

Yes, he will have to get the job done on the floor, producing winning teams. If you check out Self's track record, he has been a success everywhere he has been. Roy Williams did not leave the cupboard bare with Keith Langford, Aaron Miles, Wayne Simien and Co. returning.

Kansas also got a verbal commitment from 6-11 Alexander "Sasha" Kaun, giving Self quite a recruiting class for next season already. So Kansas has added a couple more pieces of the puzzle -- great assets for the Jayhawks' future.

Another new coach, Georgia's Dennis Felton, has landed a familiar name. He recently received a verbal commitment from Channing Toney, the son of former Philadelphia 76ers guard Andrew Toney.

Felton took over the Bulldogs program after former coach Jim Harrick resigned in March under pressure. Andrew Toney averaged 15.9 point per game in eight NBA seasons, all with the Sixers.

When you think of some of the great matchups over the years, UCLA and Notre Dame is special. My broadcast buddy, ESPN analyst Digger Phelps, never lets me forget about how he coached Notre Dame past UCLA, breaking the Bruins' 88-game win streak in the 1970s with Irish stars John Shumate, Gary Brokaw, Ray Martin, Dwight Clay and Co. Just thinking about those uniforms gives me goose bumps!

Digger strutting the court with his carnation and the Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden, with the rolled-up program! It's great for basketball to see these teams meeting again, Feb. 28 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

I'd like to see other matchups, like UCLA-Duke and UCLA-Kentucky. Players love playing against the best, and it's great to see traditional powers meeting.

Here we go again ... as NBA training camps open, a number of guys are dotting rosters looking for a chance to make it. Go to the East, West, North and South, baby! There are plenty of players who have tried to go to the pros early to shoot the J instead of staying in school to work on their game, helping themselves in the long haul.

Now they bounce around like a rubber ball. They hope and pray that they get a shot, chasing that dream. Let it be known that making it to the NBA level is something special. There are fewer than 350 pro jobs (29 teams with 12 roster spots each), so you've got to have that special talent and desire to make it.

Here are three guys who left school early and are still trying to make an NBA roster: Josh Powell of N.C. State is in camp with the Dallas Mavericks; Rod Grizzard (ex-Alabama star) is in the Detroit Pistons' camp; and Smush Parker is on the Atlanta Hawks' training-camp roster.

Powell should be in a Wolfpack uniform this season, helping coach Herb Sendek's team compete in the ACC. Julius Hodge and Co. could have used the big man inside.

So many kids would be better off getting their college degree so they have something to fall back on if they don't make it. Remember, not everybody is LeBron James when they enter the draft early.

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