He's Listening

<B>CHAPEL HILL, N.C.</B> – Name a big-time school. Throw a few out there. Chances are good they're recruiting Dwight Howard. Chances are good they've offered. And chances are good Howard's listening.

It's useless to even try to come up with a school list for Dwight Howard, the big man from Dixie. The only question worth asking: Is that really the question worth asking?

The 6-11 C/PF from East Point (GA) Southwest Atlanta Christian isn't even thinking about specifics going into the summer.

"I'm not narrowing it down yet," he said this weekend at the Tournament of Champions, though he did note that if he had to take five visits tomorrow he'd probably go to Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia Tech and N.C. State.

But he added that he was looking at making a spring decision – that is, slightly less than a year from now.

More time, presumably, to gauge his NBA draft status – which, no doubt, figures to be high. High as in the lottery. High as in HIGH in the lottery.

The highly regarded Atlanta Celtics stud – arguably the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2004 – had 22 points and 11 rebounds and made 10 of his 13 free throws Saturday afternoon in a blowout win here at the Smith Center.

And that was in maybe two-thirds of a game.

He's equal parts greyhound and Great Dane – sleek AND strong, quick AND big – and he's an offensive-rebounding machine at this level of competition.

A pro.

Howard, though, also happens to be an articulate, intelligent kid (3.0 GPA) who comes from a strong, Christian family background.

All of which begs: Might that make him think about doing college even with what is his self-evident NBA potential?

Karl McCray doesn't think so.

"His parents are good, solid people," the Celtics coach said. "They will sit down and make the decision that's best for them."

"College ball or the NBA," Howard said, "whatever happens, happens. I'm going to weigh my options and see what I've got to do."

But the NBA?

"I'm giving it serious consideration," he said.

How serious?

"I'm going to get my education," he said. "If I go to the NBA, I'm still going to get my degree. If I'm in the lottery, I'd go to college. Hopefully I'll be in the top 5 or top 3."

And that might not even be a question anymore.

"He's a good kid and a great student," McCray said. "He's very polite and cordial. He's blessed."

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