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Leon Brisport Really Signs With
URI; More Harrick Hijinks--(April 22,1998)

Yesterday, we were still reporting that Leon Brisport (6'-9" So. PF/C) from LA Valley College was not yet a confirmed signee with URI; his father last week had said that he was "refusing" to sign his son's LOI unless he received assurances ed that URI coach Jim Harrick would stay and not take the Clipper head coaching job as has been rumored.

Well today, April 22, the Providence Journal reports that URI has now officially received Brisport's signed LOI. And thus, while the future of Jim Harrick might be unclear, it's pretty certain for Brisport for the next two years. He'll be a Ram.

Ah, but the fun continues with Jim Harrick, who was apparently in his office yesterday but was "unavailable to reporters". He issued a brief statement on Brisport's signing through the university's sports information office:

"He is a power-style player who is just now coming into his own,'' Harrick said of Brisport. "He has a great upside and is a strong player around the basket, both on offense and defense. He has the ability to make a difference.''

Brisport, originally attended Erasmus Hall High in Brooklyn, N.Y., averaged 22.5 points and 8 rebounds as Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys put together a 22-10 record. Brisport, who was named to the 10-player California JUCO All-State team, visited Colorado and DePaul and also considered Providence College, Kansas State and Tulane.

"I thought it was would a great opportunity for me,'' Brisport told the Providence Journal about his decision to attend URI. "I think it gives me a chance to step right in and play. And it's close to home.''

Brisport played both center and power forward at Los Angeles Valley, although he said he prefers forward. His coach, Doug Michelson, feels Brisport also can play the wing. "His upside is that he runs real well,'' Michelson told the ProJo. "He has long arms. He's a pretty efficient offensive player.''

Brisport has worked on developing a perimeter jumper, to the point where he was 5-for-10 on 3-pointers this season. For the season, he shot 58 percent from the field, 73 percent from the foul line. He was not considered a Division One player coming out of high school. He did not start for the first half of his freshman season at L.A. Valley, although he earned a starting spot by the end of that year. "He has a great work ethic in the weight room,'' Michelson noted. "That's kind of transformed his career. He's acquired upper body strength and made himself stronger.''

Brisport agreed with that assessment, telling the Providence Journal "The weight room has helped me a lot. That and the playing time coach Michelson gave me.''

Brisport likely will be one course short of his degree by the time school ends next month. He plans to go to URI to take the one class he needs this summer and be fully qualified by the time the next school year begins. One of the reasons he wanted to go to a school closer to his home, he said, was because his mother faces charges in connection with the death of a 23-month-old foster child who was in her care. Another reason was that he wanted to play for Harrick.

The Providence Journal further reported, in perhaps a bit of editorializing that they believe the chances Harrick will stay are "pretty good" or "perhaps even fairly strong". Er, um, ok.

The Journal states that "While Harrick has made no secret of his friendship with Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the fact that he would like the challenge -- as well as the salary -- there appears to be a long list of candidates for the job that became available when Bill Fitch was fired on Monday."

The Journal further notes:

"Several newspapers in Los Angeles reported that while Harrick almost surely will be considered, others might be more likely choices. One newspaper listed Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson, Seattle SuperSonics coach George Karl, former Los Angeles Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and former Phoenix Suns coach Paul Westphal as contenders.

That would have been the Times.

"Another paper said University of Southern California coach and former NBA star Henry Bibby is under consideration."

Daily News on that one. .

"Another paper said former NBA coaches Doug Collins and Jim Cleamons would be candidates, and perhaps even Bernie Bickerstaff, the current coach of the Washington Wizards. Steve Lavin, Harrick's successor at UCLA, has dropped hints he would like to move to the NBA, according to the Orange County Register.

Ok, attribution finally. Frank, was that you? Lavin? Not again.

The Journal story continues:

"I wouldn't rule out anyone,'' said Elgin Baylor, the Clippers' general manager. "There is no deadline. I haven't even put the list together.''

"Harrick's age -- he will be 60 when next season begins -- could hurt his chances. Baylor indicated that one reason Fitch was let go was because of "communication'' problems. Fitch is 63. "We're looking for a coach that can communicate with players, that emphasizes defense, an up-tempo offense and someone that's going to demand discipline,'' Baylor said.

We're still betting that we'll be hearing more from Harrick and Donald T. Sterling on this one.

The Swish Award
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