The Utah Jazz's drafting of 7-foot-2 Luther Wright of Seton Hall has not been meeting with rave national reviews. A post draft analysis in the latest Sports Illustrated, for example, had this to say: "After trading for 7-foot, 265-pound Felton Spencer on draft day, the Jazz picked 7-2, 270-pound Luther Wright. Add that ponderous pair to cement-footed 7-4, 290-pound Mark Eaton, and the Jazz might as well be called the Dirge."
And then there was this story about Wright, as reported by Tim Povtak in The Sporting News: "You have to love the big guys with a sense of humor. Seton Hall's Luther Wright watched his stock fall drastically as his weight soared after his season ended. He weighted 313 pounds at the NBA's pre-draft camp in Chicago. But a few days later during his interview with the Charlotte Hornets, he happily told the gathered media after his physical that his weight was down to 300 pounds."He forgot to tell everyone that the scale in the Hornets locker room could register a maximum of 300 pounds."
RANKED COUGARS: The early preseason returns are coming in and BYU's football stock is up. The Cougars are ranked 18th in the country in College Football, a Sporting News publication, and 19th in Sport magazine's pro & college football preview. No other WAC team is rated as high, although San Diego State is ranked 21st in College Football and both San Diego State and Fresno State are mentioned as "10 to watch" by Sport.
"While San Diego State and Fresno State come into the season armed with superstar talents on offense, the Cougars will go to war with the most balanced team in the WAC," says College Football's capsule report. "They have a great running attack, the likes of which Provo has never seen. Junior halfback Jamal Willis and senior fullback Kalin Hall give BYU its best rushers ever."
Apparently the magazine is unaware that Willis and Hall also played together last season, and will hardly be a new attraction in Provo.
AGGIES SHOULD BE NO. 1: In prognosticating the upcoming conference races, College Football picks Utah State to win the newly aligned 10-team Big West (including, for the first time, Southwestern Louisiana, Arkansas State and Northern Illinois).
"With quarterback Anthony Calvillo as a Heisman Trophy contender, no wonder so many people expect Utah State's 13-year conference-title drought to end," writes Mike Digiovanna. "With Calvillo, running back Abu Wilson, receiver Toney Jenkins and a veteran line, offensive coordinator Jim Zorn may have more weapons at his disposal than he did as a quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks in the 1970s and '80s."
The magazine predicts BYU to win the WAC while Utah is predicted to finish fifth. In the Big Sky Conference, Weber State, despite seven home games, is picked fourth.
FAULK FOR HEISMAN . . . AGAIN: His injury-plagued freshman and sophomore seasons notwithstanding, San Diego State's Marshall Faulk is, like last year, the preseason choice for the Heisman Trophy.
"The Heisman race will come down to a trio of tailbacks - all juniors," suggests Sport. "The finalists will be Faulk, Michigan's Tyrone Wheatley and Nebraska's Calvin Jones.
The winner? Not since 1986, when Vinny Testaverde took home the trophy, has a preseason Heisman favorite won. Faulk will break that dry spell. He's simply too good not to get it done."
THEY SAID THIS:
- San Diego Padres left fielder Phil Plantier after a rain-delayed doubleheader in Philadelphia that didn't end until a major league record 4:40 a.m.: "You know how when you're a little kid and you talk about playing baseball all night long? Well, now I've done that - and I don't ever want to do it again."
- New Mexico State football coach Jim Hess on the newly expanded and suddenly unaptly named Big West Conference: "It's a big something. But I don't know what."
- A none-too-happy Wake Forest basketball forward Rodney Rogers after being selected ninth in the NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets: "I can't ski and I'm not going to try. I tried out for the Pan American team in Colorado Springs in 1990 and didn't play well. I had trouble with the air."
- Michigan basketball forward Chris Webber on the draft day trade that sent him from Orlando to Golden State for three future No. 1 draft choices: "I'm not going to tell you I would have done it. I'm not sure I'm worth three No. 1's."
- New Jersey Nets coach Chuck Daly on his importance: "I don't win any games. I'm immaterial. I'm just the bus driver. The players will decide how heavy or how light the load will be."