Sports Briefs

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published April 10, 2001

State loses Richardson, Randolph may be next

SAGINAW (AP) Michigan State sophomore Jason Richardson, the leading scorer on the team that went to its third consecutive Final Four this year, is leaving the Spartans for the NBA.

"I"m going to forgo my junior and senior season at Michigan State and pursue my career in the NBA," Richardson said at a news conference yesterday.

Richardson is the first Michigan State player to turn pro as an underclassman since Magic Johnson left after his sophomore year in 1979.

Richardson, who averaged 14.7 points per game, is expected to be a top-10 pick. He averaged 5.9 rebounds and shot 50.3 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from 3-point range.

Meanwhile, freshman Zach Randolph, a key player who led the Spartans to their third consecutive Final Four, called a news conference for today, when he is expected to make himself eligible for the NBA draft.

Randolph, a former Indiana high school All-Star at Marion, would not confirm his intention to leave.

If Randolph joins Richardson, Michigan State would lose six of its top nine players from last season, including seniors Andre Hutson, Charlie Bell, David Thomas and Mike Chappell.

Murphy entering draft, but may stay in NCAA

SOUTH BEND (AP) Two-time All-America forward Troy Murphy has decided to decide later.

Officially, Murphy announced in a statement released yesterday by Notre Dame that he was putting his name in for the NBA Draft, but still might return to school for his senior season.

"This is something that I"ve thought a great deal about since the season ended. I feel that I owe it to myself to pursue this option," Murphy said in a statement. "I"ve discussed my future with some agents, and although I haven"t signed with one, I feel that it is best to take advantage of this opportunity."

Murphy said he would work out for several teams, but would not attend pre-draft camps.

Coach Mike Brey said Murphy did not attend the news conference announcing his decision in part because he may yet decide to return to the Irish.

Wanna be like Mario: Jordan could return

WASHINGTON (AP) One Washington Wizards owner thinks Michael Jordan is preparing for a comeback.

Another Wizards owner thinks it just isn"t so.

Opinions on a possible Jordan return were everywhere in the nation"s capital yesterday. The rumor that has circulated for weeks gained new credibility Monday night when Wizards primary owner Abe Pollin went on television to reveal his "gut feeling" that "the odds are that he"s going to come back" and play for Washington next season.

"I didn"t think he"d come back when I first heard the talk," Pollin then told The Washington Post. "But when Mario Lemieux came back to the Penguins, it stirred something in Michael."

A Jordan comeback would mirror that of Lemieux, one of the owners of the NHL"s Pittsburgh Penguins, who ended a three-and-a-half-year retirement in December.

Lemieux said yesterday he has talked to Jordan this month and expects him to make a comeback.

"I think it"s great for basketball and, obviously, I"m very excited about it," Lemieux said of reports of a Jordan comeback. "He"s going to give it a shot and he"s working very hard. He"s taking his time, he"s taking a few months to get ready, but I"m sure when he gets back, he"ll be the best player again."

Pollin"s words were stunning, given the business relationship between him and Jordan. As the team"s president of basketball operations, Jordan is answerable only to Pollin.

Jordan also owns a small piece of the Wizards, and he would have to divest his ownership under NBA rules before returning to the court.

Odom leaves Wake for South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Dave Odom, who coached Wake Forest for 12 seasons, was hired as coach at South Carolina yesterday after the school"s top two choices turned down the Gamecocks" offers.

The school scheduled a news conference to announce Odom as the successor to Eddie Fogler, who resigned after a 15-15 season when athletic director Mike McGee refused to extend his contract, which had three years remaining.

South Carolina"s top two candidates, Kentucky"s Tubby Smith and Connecticut"s Jim Calhoun, turned down offers from the school.

Odom, 58, has a 240-132 record at Wake Forest.

The Deacons won the 2000 NIT title under Odom, a three-time ACC Coach of the Year and the 1995 National Coach of the Year.