Top post player picks FSU over North Carolina

Published May 17, 2005

Florida State beat defending national champion North Carolina for one of the nation's most touted post players when Uche Echefu announced Monday he would sign a national letter of intent with the Seminoles.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Echefu, a native of Nigeria who began playing basketball only three years ago, averaged more than 21 points and nine rebounds for perennial national power Montrose (Md.) Christian High.

"He's very athletic and physically strong," said coach Stu Vetter, who has sent a number of players to the ACC, including Georgia Tech's Marvin Lewis, North Carolina State's Levi Watkins and Tony Bethel and Virginia's Tunji Soroye. He also coached ACC stars Dennis Scott, Randolph Childress and Nate James.

"And Uche (pronounced Ooh-chay) is getting better. He works very hard."

Echefu said he faced a difficult decision - the Tar Heels lost seven of their top eight players to graduation or early entry to the NBA draft - but felt more comfortable with FSU coach Leonard Hamilton; the Seminoles began recruiting him when they were after his former teammate Linas Kleiza three years ago.

"You can go somewhere, but if you don't have good relations with the people around you, things aren't going to go well," the soft-spoken Echefu said. "I trust Coach Hamilton."

The Seminoles (12-19) struggled with a consistent inside game last season. Sophomore Alexander Johnson and junior Diego Romero battled injuries. Senior forward Adam Waleskowski (8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds) had his moments but mainly came off the bench. Rivalshoops.com has Echefu the No.2-rated center among prep seniors. "If we're unselfish and play hard, we can be a good team," he said. "I'm ready to play right now."

CINCINNATI: Coach Bob Huggins decided to accept the school's decision limiting him to a two-year contract, which could flare into a bigger issue.

The university stripped a rollover provision from Huggins' contract after his arrest and conviction for drunken driving last year. The provision automatically added a year to his contract each summer, keeping it a four-year deal. University president Nancy Zimpher notified Huggins last week that he again would not get the extension, leaving him with a two-year deal.

GA. TECH: Guard Zam Fredrick, who played sparingly as a freshman and said he wanted to transfer, will return.

KENTUCKY: Former standout Rex Chapman told the Courier-Journal that school officials tried to stop him from dating black women or at least "hide it" rather than inflame fans. Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, Chapman's coach with the Wildcats, declined comment.

NCAA targets Buckeyes

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The NCAA notified Ohio State of nine reported rules violations, including cash gifts, improper academic assistance and failure of the school and coaches to monitor the men's basketball program. Seven violations involved men's basketball, including a school booster reportedly giving cash and academic help to a former player.


FSU: Sophomore infielder Ryne Malone was named ACC player of the week after hitting .579, slugging 1.105 and driving in 11 runs in five games.


VANDERBILT: Coach Bobby Johnson suspended defensive lineman DeMarcus Bradley indefinitely after the freshman was charged with aggravated assault for a fight at a bowling alley in his hometown of Springfield, Tenn.


FLORIDA: Stacey Stevens was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District team, and her sister, Stacey, made the second team.

--Information from other news organizations was used in the report.