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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2008

2 of 4 recruits for Rockets stick with decisions so far

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITERS

Two of the University of Toledo men's basketball recruits said despite coach Stan Joplin's firing, they still plan to come to UT. The other two could not be reached.

Clay's Zac Taylor and Larry Bastfield of Baltimore, were two of four players that signed letters-of-intent to play at UT last November. In the case of a coach's firing or resignation, many schools often let players out of their commitment so they can seek other collegiate options.

Bastfield, who was ranked the 39th-best senior point guard in the country by ESPN.com playing at Towson Catholic High School in Maryland, said he expects to come play at UT. Bastfield said he was told the coaching hire would be made by the Final Four, which begins a week from Saturday.

"Right now I'm still going to Toledo," Bastfield said. "I want to meet the coach who they hire. I'm not doing anything until they hire the new coach."

Last week assistant coach Nate Tuori said the UT assistants were in the process of contacting the Rockets' four signed recruits. James Davis from Columbus and Dante Harvey from Lithonia, Ga., also signed letters-of-intent with UT in November.

Bastfield spoke to assistant Lamar Chapman the day Joplin was fired on March 16, but Taylor, a forward/center from Oregon, said he had not spoken to anyone from UT about Joplin's firing and got his information from the local media.

"I'm not too confused because I know I still have a scholarship," Taylor said. "I know that Toledo's going to get a good coach. I'm still going to go there."

Both players said they were disappointed and surprised that Joplin was fired.

"I was actually really mad because he's one of the reasons I signed there," Taylor said. "He stuck by me through my knee injury. I thought for sure he'd have one more year.

"I liked his coaching style. It seemed like all his players really liked him. I figured he's been coaching for a long time anyway, sooner or later it was going to happen, but I thought I'd have this year with him."

Bastfield said he chose UT because he had a chance for early playing time and because of the Savage Hall renovations, but also because of his relationships with Joplin and Chapman.

"I took it as a surprise," Bastfield said. "When you commit to a school you don't expect that to happen. Everybody in my household was very surprised. We were going to have a good team. They only had one senior this year, and with a new building that was the last thing I thought would happen."

SEARCH COMMITTEE: Brian Lutz, UT assistant athletic director for compliance, will lead a search committee for the men's basketball coach opening. Others on the committee are athletic director Mike O'Brien, deputy athletic director Mike Karabin, former UT coach Bob Nichols, Larry Burns, university vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications and donors Truman Irving and Nancy Creech.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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