For the third straight year, Ernie Kent is giving up his summer to coach with USA Basketball.
In 2001, the University of Oregon coach assisted Jim Boeheim with the U.S. team that won the 21-and-under World Championship. For the last two years, Kent has been head coach of the U.S. team that will participate in the Junior World Championships, July 10-20, in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Kent says he's not doing it for the frequent-flier miles.
'I'm not doing it for Ernie Kent's rŽsumŽ, either,' Kent says. 'I do it for Oregon basketball. We don't have the national reputation of schools such as Arizona, Stanford, Southern Cal, Notre Dame and Kentucky in terms of winning championships and putting players in the NBA. Anything I can do to bridge the gap, enhance our recruiting and put us on a level playing field with the powers, I am going to do it.
'It is a big part of the reason we were able to recruit (Seattle's) Aaron Brooks this year.'
Kent leaves June 24 for Dallas and a two-week training camp where the U.S. roster will be pared from 18 to 12 players. The roster is likely to include 6-11 UCLA freshman Ryan Hollins, but it won't have Duck freshman-to-be Brooks, a member of Kent's team that earned the bronze medal at last summer's Junior World Championship qualifying event. Brooks declined to try out for this year's team, opting to spend the summer in Eugene and prepare for his role as the successor to point guard Luke Ridnour.
'Aaron would have done whatever we needed him to do,' Kent says. 'Had Luke stayed at Oregon, Aaron would be at our training camp later this month with me. Aaron and Brandon Lincoln (a sophomore-to-be out of Jefferson High) will have to do the job for us at the most important position in the game, and this will give Aaron a chance to better acclimate himself to Oregon basketball.'
While Kent was in Colorado Springs, Colo., he listened on his cell phone to the 200-meter finals at the Pacific-10 Conference Track and Field Championships. His son, Jordan Kent, won in a personal-best time of 20.99 seconds.
'I was probably more excited listening to it than had I actually been there,' the elder Kent says. 'That is pretty incredible for him to do as a freshman, particularly since he is doubling in basketball and track. The window is so small in terms of conditioning and getting yourself ready for track.'
Could Jordan's participation in track hamper his development as a basketball player?
'Yes and no,' Kent says. 'As a basketball coach, I want him to concentrate on basketball. The track coach wants him to concentrate on track. As a dad, I want him to have the opportunity to be all he can be and make a decision in what he wants to do in terms of athletics.
'Ultimately, he may decide he wants to do one or the other in order to be exceptional at that sport. Or he might be that unique guy who can do both.'
• Portland State football coach Tim Walsh is interviewing four candidates to replace Nigel Burton, 27, who left the staff after two years to accept a job at Oregon State coaching cornerbacks.
'I knew I was going to lose him; it was just a matter of when,' Walsh says of Burton. 'It's a chance for him to make a lot of money and grow at the profession. They are going to love him. Not only is he a good coach, he is a good person.'
Walsh lost another assistant last week Vic Venuta, who had coached the defensive line since 1995. Venuta left to enter private business in Northern California. He will be replaced by former Viking standout Saga Tuitele, who will coach defensive tackles. Rick Anderson's position on the staff was elevated, and he now will be in charge of the defensive line.
• OSU offensive guard Kanan Sanchez, who was suspended last week after missing 15 mandatory workout sessions during the spring, is making them up. If he does, he probably will be reinstated and invited to training camp in August. Beaver coaches consider Sanchez, a 6-3, 345-pound senior-to-be, the most talented of their offensive lineman. They worry, as did Coach Dennis Erickson's staff, about his work ethic and propensity to gain weight.
Beaver coaches also are concerned about the academic eligibility of defensive end Noah Happe, who missed spring ball to concentrate on his schoolwork. Happe will find out at the end of spring term if he passed enough classes to be eligible to play next fall. Even if he passes his spring classes, he will have to attend summer school.