Luke Recker, Reggie Evans, Shane Power & the Cubs

The veteran reporter discusses the two Iowa senior basketball player's futures and the mysterious departure of Shane Power at Iowa State. Since it's now the baseball season, he includes comments on the Chicago Cubs.

It's anybody's guess if Reggie Evans and Luke Recker, the best players on Iowa's underachieving basketball team this past season, will be drafted by NBA teams.

If I were interested in betting a buck or two--and I'm sure not going to bet a buck or two on any basketball players I'd say Evans will be drafted late in the second round and Recker won't be drafted at all.

Let's hope Recker, who already has his degree from Iowa, had the good sense to take some foreign language courses along the way. He'll likely need them where he's headed for his next basketball league.

Meanwhile, Iowans are debating whether Evans made a wise move by becoming a college dropout after averaging 16.3 points and 11.5 rebounds for the Hawkeyes in 2001-2002.

At the time he quit school, Evans said he was pursuing a dream. A lot of collegiate basketball players some of whom have completed their eligibility and some of whom haven't are pursuing that same dream.

The dream, of course, is the NBA.

It's a dream that, sadly, very few players attain.

Some people think Evans should be hit over the head for calling it quits at Iowa once his basketball days were over.

Not me. Oh, sure, I wished Evans would have stuck around, gone to class and worked toward a degree.

It's all part of the American Dream (not to be confused with Evans' dream). The American Dream goes something like this: Go to college, get a degree, get a good job, get married, raise a family, live happily ever after.

But, face it, basketball is Reggie Evans' life. You know it, I know it, sad though it is. He said he'd return to school someday. Maybe he will. Let's hope so.

Some people those who doubt he'll make it as a pro--say he doesn't have "game.'' Some people say he's too one dimensional. That's for the NBA to decide. All I know is that the guy usually plays hard as hell and can rebound as though his life depended on it.

I can't come down on him for his decision to chase his dream in April. From Day One, he was at Iowa to play basketball, not study. Somehow I think the books ranked near the bottom on Evans' list of priorities.

He was never headed for the dean's list. Don't forget, Coach Steve Alford not usually known for coming down hard on his stars, suspended Evans for a game during his senior season for skipping classes.

And, yes, Alford was among those critical of Evans for dropping out of Iowa.

Evans is certainly no different than Jamaal Tinsley, who quit going to school early in his final season at Iowa State. And who's going to argue that Tinsley made the wrong decision? He became a first round NBA draft choice.

Then there's Andry Sola, who quit his classes at Drake in March and went to Spain to pursue his dream, yes, a professional basketball career.

Who's to say Sola, at 24 years of age, is doing the wrong thing?

Not me.

Unless the system is changed—unless penalties are handed down to players, coaches and university presidents when a 6-8 forward with a 20 point scoring average quits his classes I can't find fault with what Evans and Sola did this season, and what Tinsley did last season.

What the players are doing certainly doesn't help their schools' graduation rates for basketball players, which as we recently saw at Arkansas can sometimes be zero. But none of them signed contracts saying they'd stick around to get their degrees when they signed national letters of intent.

The appeal of professional basketball dollars is rightly or wrongly strong. Otherwise, why would underclassmen such as Jared Jeffries of Indiana, Jayson Williams and Carlos Boozer of Duke, Drew Gooden of Kansas, Kareem Rush of Missouri, Marcus Taylor of Michigan State and so many others even the famous Smush Parker of Fordham--be making themselves available for the June 26 draft?

Underclassmen have until May 12 to announce for the draft. They can take their names out of consideration on or before June 19 if they haven't signed with an agent.

Sure, I'd like to see Gooden and Rush play against Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum next season. Sure, I'd like to see Jeffries and Taylor play against Iowa.

But they deserve the right to, as Evans said, chase their dream.

In an earlier writing life, I watched Magic Johnson lead his Michigan State team to the 1979 NCAA title by beating Larry Bird's Indiana State team.

Johnson then was a sophomore. Obviously, he was ready for the NBA.

I sat in a Salt Lake City hotel room, writing a commentary piece that Johnson should turn pro. He had nothing else to prove, I wrote, at the collegiate level.

Something tells me Magic made the correct decision by making himself available for the NBA draft. All he did was lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five league titles, and he became the first rookie to be named the most valuable player in the NBA finals.

Come to think of it, Bird didn't do badly, either.

Now Back to the Shane Power Saga

The mystery goes on regarding the sudden departure of Shane Power from Iowa State's basketball team. Power says there was "nothing sinister or evil'' behind his decision to quit. For Cyclone fans, that's good to hear. The last thing they need to know about their basketball program is that there's something sinister and evil involved.

Meanwhile, with Power giving no reasons for why he's quitting, fans can only guess. And there's a lot of guessing going on among them. Some of their guesses make more sense than others. They can wonder if Power, who was the only player to start all 31 of Iowa State's games last season, had a falling out with Coach Larry Eustachy. They recall Eustachy's comment in his first statement on the matter that "we want players who want to be in our program.'' They can wonder if Power, who averaged a whopping 37.5 minutes a game last season, thought his playing time would diminish next season because of the players in the incoming recruiting class. They can wonder if Eustachy's hard practices had taken the fun out of basketball for Power. They can wonder if Power's mother, Sharon, got tired of making the long trip from Crown Point, Ind., to Ames for Shane's games.

They can wonder if Shane wants to be closer to his longtime girlfriend, Lello Gebisa, now a basketball player at Wisconsin after earlier being at Duke. They can wonder if Power, too, will transfer to Wisconsin. And that way he can play against Iowa twice a season instead of just once. Heck, as long as they're wondering, they can wonder if Shane will transfer to Iowa. That way, he could still exchange pleasantries with Eustachy and his former Cyclone teammates once a year. They can wonder if Power might transfer to Purdue, which tried to recruit him out of high school. They can wonder if, deep down, Shane always wanted to play for Gene Keady. And, don't forget, Power has matched jump shots with former Boilermaker scoring whiz Rick Mount in past off seasons. They can wonder if Power intends to file the paperwork that would make him eligible for the NBA draft. Well, why not?

The wondering will go on until Power says more. But, just remember while you're doing all that wondering, he's 20 years of age. When you and I were 20, we probably had some people wondering about us, too.

Don Baylor, Are You Paying Attention?

For the first time ever, four major league managers have been fired before May 1. The latest to get the ax is Tony Muser, whose Kansas City Royals have an 8-15 record. Beating Muser to the unemployment line were Phil Garner of the Detroit Tigers (fired April 9), Davey Lopes of the Milwaukee Brewers (fired April 18) and Buddy Bell of the Colorado Rockies (fired last Friday).

Can the Chicago Cubs' Don Baylor be far behind? Baylor's team starts a West Coast trip tonight with the same 8-15 record Muser had. And Baylor has a bad baseball team. A very bad one.

His managing isn't so hot, either.


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