News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

College Notebook


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Stan Heath’s end-of-the-season news conference was part optimism, part defiance.

Heath said Tuesday that Arkansas is moving in the right direction after a second straight NCAA tournament appearance, and he responded to questions about his job status by saying he felt the public wasn’t getting the entire story.

“I think there has been a lot of misinformation out there,” Heath said. “I think there’s a lot of truth to some things that have been said, but it’s not the full truth.”

Several media outlets in Arkansas reported last month that Heath would likely be fired if the Razorbacks didn’t make the NCAA tournament. Arkansas earned a bid with a late-season run, but the questions have continued. The Razorbacks lost in the first round to Southern California on Friday night.

The university has said Heath will have his usual postseason review with athletic director Frank Broyles, but Heath said Tuesday he wasn’t sure when that would happen and expected it to be similar to previous postseason talks with his boss.

Arkansas had no seniors on its roster this season, and Heath said the future is bright for this group. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t be a team next season that wins multiple games in the NCAA tournament,” Heath said. “That will be our goal.”

Illinois State

NORMAL, Ill. — Kansas assistant Tim Jankovich was hired as coach of Illinois State on Tuesday, taking over a team that hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament in a decade.

Jankovich replaces Porter Moser, who was fired March 5 after his teams went 51-67 in four seasons. The Redbirds have had losing records four of the past seasons.

“In the end, it was his intellect that truly drew us to him as our final selection,” Illinois State athletic director Sheahon Zenger said at a news conference.

Illinois State was 15-16 this year, losing 68-65 to Indiana State in the opening round of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Jankovich planned to rejoin Kansas as it prepares for an NCAA regional semifinal game Thursday against Southern Illinois. The 47-year-old coach will stay with Kansas through the tournament.

A native of Gary, Ind., Jankovich said his new job is a good fit after years of recruiting in the Midwest. He added that he grew up following former Redbirds star Doug Collins, who went on to play in the NBA and the Olympics.

“I have to pinch myself on the hour every hour to believe this is really happening right now,” Jankovich said.


BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU center Glen “Big Baby” Davis is moving on to the next stage of his basketball life.

The 6-foot-9, 290-pound junior said Tuesday he will skip his senior year to enter the NBA draft.

“After my toughest year, I now feel I am physically and mentally ready for the NBA,” Davis said at a news conference. “In my mind and in my heart, I felt that it was time for me to move on.”

He has signed with agent John Hamilton of Performance Sports Management but will remain enrolled at LSU until the end of the semester. The NBA’s predraft camp is May 28-June 5 in Orlando, Fla., and Davis expects to be there.

Davis averaged 17.7 points and 10.4 rebounds this season, missing several games late in the year because of a strained quadriceps. He is the only LSU player other than Shaquille O’Neal with career totals surpassing 1,500 points, 900 rebounds and 100 blocks. Davis was an AP second team All-America selection during the 2005-06 season, when LSU went to the Final Four.

“Last year, the team had great success. I was part of only four (LSU) teams to make it to the Final Four,” Davis said. “I decided to stay and hoped to build on that this year. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.”

Coach John Brady said he advised Davis to turn pro unless he was fully committed to returning to LSU for his senior year. The coach told Davis not to base his decision purely on projections about how high he will go in the draft.

“I told him two weeks ago that he needs to go where his heart moves him to go, not where someone tells him he’ll go (in the draft),” Brady said. “He had three outstanding years at LSU. I watched him grow. ... He’ll do well.”

Davis said he’s been told he could be selected anywhere from the middle of the first round to early in the second.

First-round picks get guaranteed three-year contracts. Second-rounders do not, and many get cut in training camp. In rare cases, however, being picked in the second round can be a financial boon to players who perform well since they can enter the league under shorter contracts and become free agents sooner.

Davis played center and power forward in college but is expected to play power forward in the pros.

South Florida

MOBILE — South Florida is considering South Alabama coach John Pelphrey to take the reins of its Big East program, USA athletic director Joe Gottfried said.

“They are in the preliminary stages of their coaching search, and John is one of the coaches they have an interest in,” Gottfried said Monday.

“I don’t know their timetable, but I don’t think they’re close to any kind of decision,” Gottfried told the Press-Register.

Pelphrey, 38, who has been with the Jaguars five seasons, was a finalist for the Ole Miss coaching position last year.

USA was 20-12 and won the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title this season, losing on the road 79-73 to Syracuse in the first round of the NIT. They were 24-7 a year ago and reached the NCAA tournament before losting to eventual national champion Florida in the first round.

South Florida is searching for a coach to replace Robert McCullum, who was fired after a 12-18 season and going 40-74 in four years.

The Associated Press

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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