In some ways UNLV's latest blue-chipper is cut from the
traditional Runnin' Rebels mold: a juco transfer (from Vincennes
[Ind.] University), a dynamic leaper and a tireless
transition-game player. However, Marion, a 6'7" small forward,
would rather rebound than score, has no nickname, doesn't talk
trash and moved to Vegas with his mom, Elaine, who plans to
attend every home game. He says his proudest accomplishment is
breaking the national junior college tournament rebounding
record, with 68 in five games.
Mitchell High's home court is one of South Dakota's most popular
tourist attractions, but only partly because Miller, who
averaged 26.6 points and 10.5 rebounds last season, played
there. The gym is named the Corn Palace because its interior and
exterior walls are covered by murals made of corncobs.
(Naturally, Mitchell's teams are nicknamed the Kernels.) "When
you tell people you played in a gym made of corn, you get some
funny looks," says Miller, a versatile 6'8", 218-pound Florida
freshman who should make believers out of the faithful in
Gainesville. He won both the slam-dunk contest and the
three-point shootout at Florida's Midnight Madness. "People
expect me to be a big, slow country boy, but I play like a city
kid," says Miller.
In the summer of 1997 Yarbrough had just finished playing in a
pickup game at the Cleveland (Tenn.) High gym when he glanced up
at an air conditioner, took one step, leaped for the beam
supporting the unit and began swinging on it. The beam was later
measured at more than 11 feet off the ground and was dubbed
Vincent's Beam. Yarbrough has always strived to reach
extraordinary heights, having won the MVP award in the '97 state
championship tournament at age 15. After averaging 23.5 points,
13.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 5.1 blocks as a senior, the 6'7"
Yarbrough is considered Tennessee's most prized recruit since
Bernard King signed up with the Volunteers 24 years ago.
As a senior at St. John's at Prospect Hall in Frederick, Md.,
Jason--brother of former Duke star Jeff--averaged 20.1 points
and 12.0 rebounds to lead the 25-0 Vikings to USA Today's
mythical 1998 national title. Until last year Jason, a 6'8"
swingman, thought he would play for his father, also named Jeff,
at Old Dominion, but the two agreed they didn't want to risk
having basketball come between them. The elder Capel, whose
Monarchs lost to Jeff Jr.'s Blue Devils in '94, will face North
Carolina and Jason on Dec. 4. "Every other game I'm a big Tar
Heels fan, but that night we'll try like heck to beat each
other," the father says.
Gadzuric, a 6'10" native of The Hague, the Netherlands, grew up
an avid soccer player who never embraced what he called "the
game with the orange ball and the two rings" until the day five
years ago when he discovered the joy of dunking. Gadzuric came
to the U.S. at 17 to play three seasons at a Massachusetts prep
school and averaged 20.8 points, 17.3 rebounds and 7.0 blocks as
a senior there. His relatively small feet (size 13) afford him
surprising agility to complement his height, a rare combination
that could make him the best center UCLA has recruited since
Bill Walton. "I've come a long, long way in a short time,"
Gadzuric says. About the distance from Holland to Hollywood.
FIVE COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS: PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOSEF ASTOR ASTROLOGICAL BACKGROUND PHOTOGRAPHS: FPG; IMAGE BANK; TIME INC. PICTURE COLLECTION [Photomontages of Shawn Marion leaping in outer space for dunk shot; Mike Miller diving through hoop to dunk basketball into crater while cows graze; Vincent Yarbrough watching himself in midair with basketball; Jason Capel in midair with basketball above moonscape littered with car wreckage; Dan Gadzuric with basketball in gas cloud in outer space above ocean]