The best thing about the 4-year-old early signing rule for high school basketball recruits is that the eight-day "window" shuts just before the college season begins, allowing coaches to concentrate on this season's team, rather than the future.
This year, the window was open Nov. 13-20. During that time, most major schools signed players. A lot of big men signed early. The Atlantic Coast Conference got several: Andre Reyes, the 6-foot-9 South Carolinian who signed with Maryland; James Munlyn, 6-11, also from South Carolina (Georgia Tech); Scott Williams, 6-10 from California (North Carolina), and Allah Abdel-Naby, 6-10 from Egypt by way of New Jersey (Duke).
Although Charles G. Driesell is ecstatic about signing Reyes, the best of this group may be Williams, who surprised many people by leaving the West Coast. The Big East also got its share of big men: Georgetown reportedly signed Sam Jefferson, 6-10 from Flint Hill; Villanova signed two -- Tom Greis, 7-1 from Long Island, and Barry Bekkedam, 6-10 from Philadelphia -- and Seton Hall got an excellent forward, 6-7 Frantz Volcy. Syracuse signed four players, including two top California guards, Earl Duncan and Steve Thompson.
The strangest of those signings may have been Thompson, a Los Angeles kid, who claimed first he didn't want to play with Duncan and then signed with Syracuse because he "really liked the city."
A couple of other significant national signings: Terry Mills, 6-10 from Michigan, turned down Kentucky and signed with Michigan. Two top Kentucky players stayed home: Felton Spenser, 7 feet, signed with Louisville and 6-4 guard Rex Chapman signed with Kentucky.
Now, no one can sign again until April and perhaps everyone can concentrate on basketball games instead of recruiting games for a while.
George Mason opened its season Saturday with an easy victory at Central Florida. Now, things will become both exciting -- and difficult -- for the Patriots.
Tuesday, they open their 10,000-seat field house against Maryland. The Terrapins are the opponent because Patriots Coach Joe Harrington used to work for Driesell. It should be quite a night for George Mason, although Harrington's team isn't likely to upset the Terrapins. One week later, Georgetown will play in the new field house.
With 39 victories the last two seasons, Harrington has GMU headed in the right direction. With the new arena, the Patriots should have a shot at an NIT bid this year if they fall short of an NCAA berth but have a good record.
The Bob Knight-Wayne Duke feud continues. One year ago, Big Ten Commissioner Duke censured Knight for missing the Big Ten's preseason media day. Then he suspended Knight for one game after the infamous chair-throwing incident.
Knight skipped the media day because he does not believe Duke has done anything to police recruiting violations in the Big Ten. "I gave him a list of things going on last December," Knight said. "He said he'd get back to me very, very shortly. I'm still waiting."
Thursday, speaking to a group of Indiana alumni in Chicago, Knight said, "If any of you ever run into Wayne Duke on the street and you see that he's going to be hit by a car, I would honestly ask you to give real thought to pulling him back. Don't endanger yourself, though."
The line got no laughs in the Big Ten office.
As the season begins, here are five players worth watching who don't receive much attention, a preseason all-underrated team:
Ron Harper, 6-7 from Miami (Ohio). He scored 36 points in a season-opening loss to Louisville Friday and almost beat Maryland single-handed in last season's NCAA tournament.
Reggie Lewis, 6-7 from Northeastern. He averaged 24.1 as a sophomore, did a tap dance on Ohio State and scored 30 points against Maryland Saturday.
Larry Krystowiak, 6-8 from Montana. If he hadn't gotten sick during the Olympic trials he might have made the team. Krystowiak, who can shoot with either hand, averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds a game last year.
Rick Olson, Wisconsin's 6-1 senior, goes almost unnoticed in the guard-rich Big Ten. He averaged 17 points and five assists last season and started this season with 16 points and a crucial three-point play in the Badgers' 68-65 upset of South Carolina.
Dell Curry, the 6-4 four-year starter at Virginia Tech. Last year, he averaged 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals a game. This year he began with 38 points in Tech's 67-66 loss to No. 2 Michigan Friday in Hawaii.
The Upset Pick is off to another slow start. Navy blew a seven-point second half lead Friday and lost to St. John's, 66-58. Shouldn't have happened. This week, Temple, from the underrated Atlantic Ten, will go to UCLA and upset the Bruins of the overrated Pacific-10.