As the first day of the early signing period for high school basketball players passed Wednesday, it became apparent that Scott Williams of Hacienda Heights Wilson, perhaps the top prospect on the West Coast, knows how to play a game other than basketball.
Williams, the last of the big-name Southern California players who have said they will sign a letter of intent before Nov. 20 but still have not committed, apparently is going to play a little chess and wait for the other players to make their moves. He probably will decide as late as Saturday.
"I think he wants to go where the other good people go, but just not too many of them," Wilson Coach Mike Lowe said. "By waiting, he feels he could analyze the situation better."
So the same five schools are still in the running: UCLA, North Carolina, DePaul, Villanova and Georgia Tech. Rumors that UCLA and North Carolina are are a step ahead of the others have been substantiated by a source close to Williams.
But the new twist is that a third team is said to be very much in the running with the Bruins and Tar Heels, although no one is saying which one. Williams' last recruiting trip was to Villanova, although the defending NCAA champions already have commitments from 6-10 Barry Bekkedam from Pennsylvania and 7-1 Tom Greis from New York.
Meanwhile, coaches at Nevada Las Vegas have yet to receive Clifford Allen's signed letter of intent, but say they know it's only a matter of days. Allen played for Carson in the summer leagues.
"I spoke to Issy (Washington, Allen's guardian) just a little while ago and he said it's all done and in the mail," assistant Coach Mark Warkentien said. "We haven't gotten it back yet, but it's a done deal."
The Rebels, who will also sign forward Chris Jeter from San Diego Morse, will turn their attention in the regular April signing period, at least as far as Southern California is concerned, to Stacy Augman of Pasadena Muir. They are also interested in guard Karl James of Baltimore Dunbar, who will reschedule a visit after postponing one last weekend. He is the brother of Spoon James, former UNLV player and current graduate assistant.
UCLA announced the signings of Trevor Wilson of Cleveland High in Reseda, Kevin Walker of Brea-Olinda and Greg Foster of Oakland Skyline. USC expects to sign Anaheim Katella's Bob Erbst.
Cal State Fullerton will sign Marlon Vaughn, Compton Dominguez guard, and Pepperdine is still awaiting word on one player and may make an announcement today. Cal State Long Beach had nothing to report.
The University of Washington and first-year Coach Andy Russo fared well with the early signing period, one new commitment coming from Crenshaw forward Ronald Caldwell. The Huskies had previous agreements from forwards Michael Hayward of San Anselmo Drake and Mark West of Portland Grant, and swingman Jeff Sanor of Boise, Ida.
Nationally, Illinois anticipated signing five players, including three guards ranked among the top 100 seniors in the country by North Carolina talent evaluator Bob Gibbons, and Notre Dame expected four players, two of whom are 6-9. Indiana got two additions, including 6-10, 220-pound center Dean Garrett from San Clemente High School and San Francisco City College.
Another of Gibbons' favorite players, power forward Terry Mills of Romulus, Mich., has not made an official announcement in choosing between Michigan and Kentucky but the Detroit News has reported that he will go with the Wolverines. Seven-footer Felton Spencer from Louisville Eastern, long considered a lock for the home-town Cardinals, made it official, while Denver Mullen guard Michael Christian announced at a press conference at the high school that he has picked Georgia Tech over Kansas.
Two of the better known players, J. R. Reid of Virginia Beach, Va., and Steve Thompson of Crenshaw, have said they will wait until April to sign.