fter Sunday's year-end banquet served as the final official event of Monty Mack's college basketball career, the University of Massachusetts' second-highest career scorer can get ready for his professional career.
Mack already has been invited to participate in this month's Phoenix Draft Camp.
It's a promising step. Many collegians have to play well at the less prestigious Portsmouth (Va.) Draft to even be invited to the Phoenix event, but Mack has been extended a free pass.
Mack, who has his undergraduate degree already, is headed to Philadelphia for two weeks, where he'll stay with former UMass and current Drexel coach Bruiser Flint. Mack plans to work out with friends to help prepare for Phoenix.
Mack knows he's not a sure bet in the NBA draft.
"I think it's every player's dream to get drafted," Mack said. "I'm just looking for an opportunity. I'm excited to get to the camp."
Looking down at his 2-year-old son Monty Jr., who has a haircut to match his father's new corn rows, Mack said his basketball focus has changed somewhat.
I know it's for my family now. It's going to make me play harder," Mack said. "It's not like college basketball where it's just winning or losing. You have to go out and provide for your family."
Mack said he doesn't have an agent yet.
BLIZZARD TO GRAD SCHOOL: If Kitwana Rhymer earns his degree by the end of the summer, UMass will have two players with degrees on its roster next year.
Junior Ronell Blizzard, who redshirted as a freshman, expected to complete his bachelor's degree this year. Blizzard is part of UMass' Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration program, which allows students to combine courses from several majors to create their own. His was based on a multi-cultural approach to education and coaching.
Blizzard said he will take graduate classes in higher-education administration next year to remain eligible.
Blizzard, who was vastly improved last season, could flourish under new coach Steve Lappas. On several occasions Lappas said 3-point shooting is a key component to his offense.
Blizzard's minutes gave him only limited opportunities to display his perimeter shooting touch, but he's shown considerable range on his jumper at times through his career.
Of the other returning Minutemen, only Willie Jenkins is noted for his shooting, which could give Blizzard an increased role.
A-10'S FULL SLATE: Jan van Breda Kolff apparently liked Western New York during the 2000 NCAA Tournament, because he's leaving the paradise that is Malibu, Calif., to move there.
Van Breda Kolff, who led Pepperdine to an upset win over Indiana in the NCAA's last year in Buffalo, was hired as the new coach at St. Bonaventure. The former Vanderbilt and Cornell coach replaced Jim Baron, who left to take over at Rhode Island.
The hiring completes a busy off-season in the Atlantic 10, which will have the following new coaches in 2001-02: Baron, van Breda Kolff, Lappas, Danny Nee (Duquesne), Billy Hahn (La Salle) and John Beilein (Richmond).