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Labor strife creating dilemma for NBA hopefuls

Several star players will soon have to make decisions on whether to return for another season or head to the NBA. Already, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger has announced he plans to return for his sophomore year.

Underclassmen have until April 24 to declare for the draft, and they can withdraw by May 8 to retain their eligibility as long as they do not hire an agent. But compounding the difficulty in that decision this year is the threat of an NBA lockout.

The league and the players' association have been working on a new collective bargaining agreement for one that expires June 30, though it's unclear how much progress has been made.

While the NBA draft will go on regardless of whether there's a lockout, teams wouldn't be able to sign or pay players until a new CBA is struck. That means a lot of uncertainty for the players, especially if negotiations were to drag into next season.

"Everybody tells me there is going to be a lockout, but I will also do one thing that I have always done: Here is the information, what do you want to do?" North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Saturday. "And then I'm going to support whatever that individual wants to do."

The Tar Heels' Harrison Barnes is one player who could test the NBA market, while Kentucky — the team they play today in the region finals — has a trio of talented freshmen in Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, all of whom could consider turning pro.

"Right now, you know, I know all of us are student-athletes," Knight said. "We are focused on being student-athletes first, so we are just — I'm enjoying the time that I'm having here, and you know, loving the college experience."

QUICK ON THEIR FEET: It is helpful to be able to think fast in emergencies, but sometimes it is better to be fast.

After an alarm went off during a news conference at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Tar Heels coach Williams initially tried to continue answering questions. But soon, moderator Mike Fratto announced the building would have to be evacuated.

Before leaving, Williams joked, "We can get out of here a hell of a lot faster than most teams we play," a reference to the Tar Heels' speed and uptempo style.

Reporters filed out through a back door but were not even down the hallway before being told to return after an all-clear.

By that time, Carolina already had left the building and reached its bus. Williams and his players were summoned back to finish the interview session.

"We were sitting there and I didn't know what was going on," Tar Heels forward Tyler Zeller said. "I thought it was something like a forklift backing up or something. Then the guy started talking. I was lost, then Coach told us to go sit on the bus and I was sitting on the bus."

RATINGS BONANZA: The first time that every NCAA Tournament game has been available live on television has worked out well for everyone involved.

The average rating through the region semifinals, including the "First Four games," was 5.8, representing the percentage of homes with televisions tuned to a program. That equated to about 9 million viewers overall, an increase of 13 percent from a year ago.

FASHION STATEMENT: Josh Harrellson's nickname is "Jorts," which the Kentucky senior earned after a picture of him wearing a lengthy pair of jean shorts popped up on a popular website while he was being recruited by former coach Billy Gillispie.

It's a moniker Harrellson has embraced. He has about a dozen pairs of jean shorts stuffed inside a drawer in his bedroom in a wide array of colors and lengths.

"It's a fashion statement, they're easy to put on," he said. "I can wear my basketball shorts underneath them and wear them out to the courts, they're easy to slip off."

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NCAA Tournament Round of 16

Region semifinals and finals Semifinals Championship Semifinals Region semifinals and finals
EAST: Newark, N.J. 1. Ohio State 60 1. Kansas 77 SOUTHWEST: San Antonio, Texas
4. Kentucky FINAL FOUR:

RELIANT STADIUM,

HOUSTON

1. Kansas
4. Kentucky 62 12. Richmond 57
5:05 today, Ch. 10 2:20 today, Ch. 10
11. Marquette 63 11. VCU 72 (overtime)
2. North Carolina 11. VCU
2. North Carolina 81 April 2, Ch. 10 10. Florida State 71
April 4, Ch. 10 April 2, Ch. 10
WEST: Anaheim, Calif. 1. Duke 77 8. Butler 61 SOUTHEAST: New Orleans
5. Arizona 63 8. Butler 74
5. Arizona 93 4. Wisconsin 54
3. Connecticut 8. Butler
3. Connecticut 74 3. BYU 74
3. Connecticut 65 2. Florida 71 (OT)
2. San Diego State 67 2. Florida 83 (overtime)

Labor strife creating dilemma for NBA hopefuls 03/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 26, 2011 11:27pm]

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