With UNLV still adjusting to the post-Tark era (SI, Jan. 11),
there is a rare vacuum atop the Big West, and Long Beach State
appears ready to fill it. As of Sunday the 49ers were 12-1, their
best start in 19 years, and leading the league with a 5-1 record.
What's more, two of those victories came over the teams most likely
to challenge them for the Big West title: UNLV and New Mexico State.
This kind of success was expected from Long Beach State two years
ago, when it had three starters back from a 23-9 team, but the 49ers
slipped to 11-17 in coach Seth Greenberg's first season. Leading the
revival has been 6 ft. 5 in. senior guard Lucious Harris, who last
week scored 34 and 22 points, respectively, in defeats of Nevada and
Utah State. Harris has the tools to become an NBA first-round draft
pick -- not bad for a guy who couldn't make the high school varsity
until his junior year.
Still, Harris was hotly recruited, and he eventually faced a
dilemma: whether to stay close to home and attend Long Beach State or
to journey to Lawrence, Kans., and enroll at Kansas along with his
friend and high school teammate Adonis Jordan, now the Jayhawks'
starting point guard. It would be understandable if Harris regretted
his decision, because three years ago his mother moved to Hartshorne,
Okla., a 3 1/2-hour drive from Lawrence. And two years ago he watched
Jordan lead Kansas to the Final Four.
''It was hard watching it on television,'' says Harris of seeing
the Jayhawks perform on college basketball's ultimate stage. ''But I
had made my decision and was willing to stick with it. Adonis made a
good decision, and I think I did, too.''
Greenberg certainly thinks that Harris made the right choice, and
now the coach can return the favor. It wouldn't be surprising if
Greenberg has had a few chats with his brother, Brad, about Harris.
Brad Greenberg is director of player personnel for the Portland Trail
Says Harris, ''I always figured that when school was over, I'd
just go get a job.'' Little did he realize that it might be a very