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11-26-2004, 04:47 PM
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Ex-Trojan Stewart comfortable with Kansas
By Gary Bedore, Assistant Sports Editor

Friday, November 26, 2004

Like many holiday travelers this week, Rodrick Stewart battled severe problems in trying to return to his hometown for Thanksgiving.

Stewart, however, wasn't stressed at all Wednesday when his flight from Kansas City International to Seattle was canceled twice because of snow storms throughout the United States.

Stewart was in Lawrence for his recruiting visit to attend Tuesday's Kansas University-Saint Joseph's basketball game.

The former University of Southern California combo guard, who finally arrived home at 11:30 p.m. Central time, was at peace all day, thankful he quickly had settled on his final college destination -- Kansas.

Stewart told the Journal-World, the Los Angeles Daily News and rivals.com in separate interviews late Wednesday that as long as he was able to complete the semester at USC in good academic standing, he'd be headed to KU for second semester.

He no longer plans to take a recruiting trip to Gonzaga.

"I can't imagine a better place than Kansas. It's the best place I've ever visited," said Stewart, who chose USC over Washington with his twin brother, Lodrick, his senior year at Seattle's Rainier Beach High.

"I know a lot about the history. If you know about basketball, you know about Kansas."

If he is able to take care of his academic issues at USC -- Stewart was declared academically ineligible first semester -- he said he would arrive at KU after Dec. 15, his final day at USC. KU coaches are not allowed to comment in accordance with NCAA recruiting rules.

"I won't mind sitting out a year," said Stewart, who would be eligible to play second semester of the 2005-06 season. "You can learn a lot sitting out playing against great players like they have at Kansas."

Stewart, a third-team Parade All-American in high school, looked like a great college prospect.

But his career at USC wasn't spectacular. He averaged 4.4 points off 34.4 percent shooting his freshman year, hitting just three of 30 three-pointers.

Those stats shouldn't alarm KU fans, said Stewart's high school coach, Mike Bethea.

"The kid is so talented. He has a 40-inch vertical. He's ultra-quick. He finds a way to score. He falls in the category of a freak of nature," Bethea said. "He shot 50 percent from the three-point line his senior year. He had his confidence broken at USC."

He was starting to play in the shadow of twin brother, Lodrick, who is faring better than his brother.

"We decided it's best to go to different colleges," Rodrick said. "Last year we were always worried about each other if one of us wasn't playing. When I didn't play, he'd get mad and when he didn't play, I'd get mad. We've always been together. Now we can see how we do apart. We'll always be close."

Lodrick told scout.com he was saddened when his brother announced plans to leave USC on Nov. 6.

"I shed a few tears," said Lodrick, "but he's got to do what's best for him."

The twins' dad, Bull Stewart, said Rodrick, who was the country's No. 35-rated player out of high school, would do well at KU.

"Lodrick is one of the best shooters you'll see. Rod is a combo type. He can play any position. He's competitive. He's a warrior," Bull said. "He gives 100 percent at all times. He never loses a race."

Rodrick, however ran into troubles at SC. According to published reports, he was punished for missing one final exam and suspended six games for unspecified academic reasons.

"It was kind of shaky last year. I won't lie. But I've got it back on track," Rodrick said. "I am doing very well now."

His dad believes his son can, and will, succeed in the classrooom.

"Rod is an excellent student," Bull Stewart said. "At SC he came in and did well in summer school. I think he needs devotion and guidance and will do very well there."

Rodrick is familiar with KU assistant Kurtis Townsend, who recruited him to USC, and KU freshman C.J. Giles, a teammate at Rainier Beach.

"This is the place for me," Rodrick told the Daily News. "I can really tell they want me to succeed. They said there's no better place for me to start over than Kansas. It was the loudest place I've ever been for a game. I can't tell you how much I loved the place. It was incredible. I know I'll be successful."

Road/home comparisons
Here's a look at Big 12 teams' nonconference basketball schedules. Road dates are noted so fans can compare schedules with KU's:

Road: Dec. 16 at SMU; Dec. 30 at Purdue.
Home: Hillsdale, Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Southern, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Prairie View, Chicago State, Savannah State.

Road: Preseason NIT at Michigan, Dec. 4 at Oregon State, Dec. 7 at California, Dec. 30 at Utah, Jan. 4 at Richmond.
Home: College of Charleston, Northwestern, Colorado State, UMKC, Radford, Gardner-Webb, South Dakota State.

Iowa State
Road: Dec. 1 at Northern Iowa, Dec. 10 at Iowa, Jan. 3 at Xavier.
Home: Drake, Northern Colorado, Bucknell or Stephen F. Austin, Virginia, Howard, Wagner, San Diego State, Tennessee State.

Road: Jan. 9 at Kentucky, Jan. 22 at Villanova.
Home: Vermont, St. Joseph's, Nevada, Pacific, TCU, UL-Lafayette, South Carolina, Wisconsin-Milwaukee in KC, Georgia Tech.

Kansas State
Road: Dec. 11 at Wyoming.
Home: North Dakota State, Denver, Washington State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Oakland, Texas-San Antonio, Northern Illinois, Rutgers, Eastern Illinois, Central Missouri State.

Road: Dec. 22 vs. Illinois in St. Louis.
Home: Brown, Davidson, Guardians Classic in Kansas City, Murray State, Oakland, Arkansas, Montana, Indiana, Gonzaga, American.

Road: Dec. 2 at Alabama-Birmingham, Dec. 21 at Marquette, Dec. 30 at Tennessee.
Home: Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Texas Southern, Morgan State, Minnesota, Creighton, North Carolina A&T, Montana State, Utah Valley State.

Road: Nov. 25-27, Great Alaska Shootout, Dec. 8 at Purdue, Dec. 18 Duke in New York,
Home: CSU Northridge, Coppin State, Tulsa in Oklahoma City, Northern Colorado, SW Missouri State, Florida A&M, Texas Pan American, UConn.
Oklahoma State
Road: Nov. 29 at SMU, Dec. 7 vs. Syracuse in New York, Dec. 18 at UNLV, Jan. 3 at TAMU-Corpus Christi.
Home: Northwestern State, Gonzaga in Oklahoma City, Arkansas-Little Rock, Sam Houston State, Washington State, UAB, NW Oklahoma.

Road: Nov. 22-24-Maui Invitational, Dec. 4 at Seton Hall, Dec. 18 at Wake Forest.
Home: Texas State, Coppin State, North Texas, UT-Arlington, Centenary, UT-San Antonio, UNLV, Memphis.

Texas A&M
Road: Jan. 2 at Penn State.
Home: North Carolina A&T, Trinity, Texas-Permian Basin, Oakland, Prairie View A&M, Alabama A&M, Louisiana-Monroe, Chicago State, Grambling, Houston.

Texas Tech
Road: Nov. 23 at TCU, Dec. 4 at UTEP, Dec. 21 Iowa in Chicago.
Home: UNC Asheville, Centenary, SMU, Ohio State in Dallas, Northern Arizona, Georgia State, San Francisco, Northern Colorado.

Here's a look at several teams outside the Big 12 and their home/road splits:

Road: Dec. 4 Valparaiso in Chicago, Dec. 18 Oklahoma in New York, Feb. 26 St. John's in New York.
Home: Tennessee-Martin, Davidson, UNC Greensboro, Michigan State, Toledo, Illinois-Chicago, Princeton, Temple.

Road: Dec. 4 at North Carolina, Dec. 18 at Louisville.
Home: Coppin State, Ball State in Cincinnati, Georgia State, Tennessee Tech, Morehead State, Indiana in Louisville, William and Mary, Campbell, Kansas.

Michigan State
Road: Nov. 30 at Duke, Dec. 4 at George Washington,
Home: Florida A&M, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Nicholls State, Stanford, Delware State, UCLA, UNC Asheville, Oakland.

North Carolina
Road: Nov. 19 Santa Clara in Oakland, Nov. 22-25 at Maui Invitational, Dec. 1 at Indiana, Feb. 13 at UConn.
Home: USC, Kentucky, Loyola of Chicago, Vermont, UNC Wilmington, Cleveland State, William and Mary.