Tuesday, May 4, 1999
The UH basketball teamBy Pat Bigold
receives a letter of intent
from 7-footer Todd Fields
Riley Wallace has landed the big man he wanted.
And he had to beat out a late bid by one of the nation's top programs to do it.
Todd Fields, a 7-foot, 250-pound center from St. Catharine College (Ky.), faxed his national letter of intent to the Rainbows' basketball office last night.
Fields, described as a center with a strong upper body who likes to bang inside, averaged 19 points and nine rebounds a game last season.
Having narrowed his choices last week to Iowa and Hawaii, Fields' coach (Ryan Swanson) received a call from Kentucky coach Tubby Smith, who wanted the player to visit this weekend.
But Fields said after talking over Kentucky's late interest with his girlfriend and his stepfather, former Denver Broncos quarterback Steve Ramsey, he decided Hawaii was the place for him.
"I was leaning toward Hawaii all along," said Fields.
Wallace compared Fields to former Rainbow center Seth Sundberg (1995-96).
"But Seth had to learn to play and do some things and he was really good in his second year. This kid (Fields) has a chance to be there in his first year," Wallace said.
Fields was signed out of high school by Baylor. He suffered a stress fracture in his kneecap after two games for the Bears and never fully regained the form that allowed him to run the 40 in 4.78 seconds as a high school senior.
He sat out the rest of his freshman season (1996-97) at Baylor and transferred to Collin County Junior College in Texas the next year, where he played only half a game.
But at St. Catharine, in his only full collegiate season, he played all but four games.
"If we can get his legs in shape and get him back without breaking him down, people will wonder how we got him, because he has some skills and can do a lot of things," said Wallace.
Meanwhile, UNLV won the tug-of-war with Hawaii for Fresno City College point guard Mike Garrett, who averaged 17 points and five assists.
Wallace said he still wants to recruit a point guard to spell last season's starter, Johnny White, who played almost every minute of every game.
The signing deadline is May 15.