If you ever need a trivia question, ask someone to name all five states on the Howard University basketball team.

The one likely to be forgotten is Mike Nettles.

Even the 6-foot-7, 205-pound former all-league player at Jordon High School in Los Angeles, would agree he has often been referred to as, "Oh, yeah, the other starter is Nettles."

"I guess you can say I've been forgotten in a way, but there are reasons for that," said Nettles, a senior. "For one, I'm not concertrating on a pro career. If it comes, it comes. I'm more concerned with getting in medical school and becoming a doctor.

Nettles was so concerned about his grade-point average this season, he almost heeded his mother's advice and quit basketball.

"My mother told me maybe I should give up the game and hit the books a little more. But after talking with my friends, coach A.B. Williamson and myself, I decided to give my best to both," said Nettles.

Williamson, for one, is happy Nettles is still around. The Bison, after a disappointing 66-61 loss to Catholic in their opener, have roared back and won five straight games. Nettles has been a demon during the surge, averaging 14.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Being the team leader in rebounding is no surprise to either the confident Nettles or Williamson.

"He was our leading rebounder in Brazil (Howard played 12 games on tour the past summer). In fact, he was the only person who played up to par inside." said Williamson. "Once he makes up his mind to rebound, he can go and get them."

Despite a career of good seasons and bad ones in his first three seasons, Nettles never lost his confidence.

"I know I can do the job. But my intensity has not always been there and that's my fault," said Nettles, a zoology major.

Williamson never believed Nettles actually considered leaving the team but did talk to his big forward about putting his priorities in order.

If Williamson's psychological ploy was to built a fire under Nettles, it has paid off. While getting Howard off to its quick start, Nettles, who averaged just under 10 points and six rebounds per game his first three years, is playing like a man possessed.

Against a run-and-gun outfit from Virginia State, Nettles played 37 minutes, his high, scored 18 points and pulled down 19 rebounds. It was his play in the middle that kept the Bison from being blown out early en route to a surprising 89-86 win.

Howard was supposed to have participated in a Christmas tournament in Chicago but it was canceled for lack of financial support.

Unable to get any games scheduled at such late notice, Howard will not play until Jan. 4 at St. Bonaventure.

"Personally, I need to play," Nettles said. "I know I lose a lot if I'm inactive too long. Anyway, it costs too much to go home for the holidays so I'll know where I'll be after Christmas - in the gym."