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Georgetown loses Page

At John Thompson's Georgetown, leaving school early for the NBA draft is still considered a "non-traditional option."

But Allen Iverson and Victor Page quickly are making it a tradition.

The university announced Monday that Page, a sophomore guard and the Big East's leading scorer this season, has dropped out of school to become eligible for the June 25 draft, only the second player in Thompson's 25-year tenure to turn pro early.

Last year, Thompson was riled when Iverson became the first. His reaction to Page's departure was curt.

"I understand Victor's decision, particularly with the academic demands of Georgetown," Thompson said in a prepared statement, "and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

"We all recognize that in today's society, the individual has the freedom to examine non-traditional options in planning his future."

A streaky shooter with an abundance of raw talent, Page shouldered the offensive burden for the Hoyas, averaging 22.7 points and leading Georgetown to a 20-10 record and the Big East 7 regular-season title. Page said he made his decision after the first-round loss to UNC-Charlotte in the NCAA Tournament.

"It was after the season, after we lost in Tucson," Page said. "I talked to Coach Thompson and my grandmother, then made the decision myself."

While Page often struggled through cold-shooting streaks (16-for-57 at this year's Big East tournament), a bigger struggle was his attempt to balance basketball with books. A Washington native, he attended four high schools in three states and the District of Columbia over five years, needing an extra summer session at a boarding school in New York to get his high school diploma.

At Georgetown, he acknowledged the difficulties of coping with college life. "It was real tough, man," Page said after an exam period earlier this season. "Practicing as long as we do, then being tired, then have to go and study. It was real tough."

LSU: John Brady, coach at Samford the past six seasons, is succeeding Dale Brown. "He is the right person at the right time to take this program into the next century," athletic director Joe Dean said. He became the top candidate to replace Brown _ who retired after 25 seasons _ when Mississippi coach Rob Evans turned down the job Wednesday. Brady had an 89-77 record at Samford, including four winning seasons in the past five.

UT-CHATTANOOGA: Coach Mack McCarthy has agreed to a five-year contract extension. "I'm looking forward to being here and hopefully having a lot of years like the one we had this season," he said. The Mocs became only the second No.

14 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tourney.

CLEMSON: Rick Barnes, who led the Tigers to a 23-10 record and a Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament berth, agreed to a contract extension through 2004 worth at least $668,000 a year. Barnes had been pursued by Tennessee and Ohio State.

SACRAMENTO STATE: Rutgers assistant Tom Abatemarco, once forced to resign at Drake because he was accused of verbally abusing his players, was named head coach.