Kruse On Shakur

PHILADELPHIA – Syracuse and UConn and Villanova were among the Big East programs in hot pursuit. N.C. State wanted to give him the ball – desperately. And Arizona had to lure him from one coast to the other. So how did the Wildcats come out on top?

Was it sunny Tucson? Was it Lute Olson? Was it Point Guard U?

"Not really," the touted 6-3 point guard said this past week here in his old Olney neighborhood in the City of Brotherly Love. "They didn't do anything really crazy. They didn't have to. The program pretty much spoke for itself."

But the Wolfpack had a starting position ready and waiting – guaranteed minutes, guaranteed time, a glamour role in a glamour conference. Arizona, on the other hand, had a bunch of guards already there – and young ones, too.

"With the guards and everybody else there, people were asking me, like, ‘How am I going to get minutes there?'" Shakur said. "But that doesn't make me scared. More competition is a good thing."

There was going to be plenty of competition at ‘Nova, too, what with the presence of young guns Randy Foye and Allan Ray. But the Wildcats took an August commitment from St. Pat's point man Mike Nardi – and that was that.

"I liked Villanova," Shakur said. "But Nardi was ready. And he's a good point guard. I just wasn't ready to commit at that time. It was a business thing."

As was Syracuse.

"I liked them, too," he continued. "But they have two point guards already with Billy Edelin and Gerry McNamara. So it was kind of a no-brainer. I didn't want to waste their time."

That left Arizona and State – and the kid wasn't about to shy away from some top-notch comp.

"Arizona was honest with him, and I think he was honest with them," said Greg Wright, his coach with the Hunting Park Warriors travel team. "Everyone offered him the ball. But he wants to work for it. He's going to earn it."

Shakur's going to be Mr. Everything this winter for Wynnewood (PA) Friends' Central. Eight seniors are gone off last year's 22-3 squad – including current New Hampshire rookie Shejdie Childs – so look for the lead guard to put up substantial numbers.

Coach Keino Terrell's Phoenix is gunning for a third straight Friends League championship. But the non-conference schedule is demanding, with games against perennial area powers like Lower Merion (see: Bryant, Kobe), Roman Catholic (Griffin, Eddie) and Coatesville (Hamilton, Rip).

FCS is also scheduled to trip to Lewes, Del., for the high-profile Slam Dunk to the Beach post-Christmas tournament.

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