By John Helsley
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The news that Travis Ford and Co. were cutting ties with Juco forward Karron Johnson came as no surprise. And it shouldn’t be regretted.
The Cowboys chased Johnson a long time and there was promise when he signed a letter of intent with OSU back in February. But Johnson couldn’t steer clear of a familiar trail of trouble that traced from school to school to school — five schools in all, in five years.
His season at Midland had barely begun when he had a run-in with Chaps head coach Ross Hodge, who booted Johnson from the team after just nine games. It was the same story a year ago, when clashed with coach Jeff Spoonhour at Moberly Area Community College in Missouri and was dismissed from the squad there.
Nobody doubts that Johnson is a rare talent, an NBA talent. But there’s no doubting his track record for trouble, either. Needing a focused direction going forward from this season of struggle, the Cowboys don’t need any distractions of this sort.
So the Cowboys are moving on. And moving out, now scrambling to find some new pieces for the 2011-12 season. And they’ve got their work cut out for them.
OSU will be lacking a proven presence in the post next year, especially if Darrell Williams doesn’t return from his legal issues. Marshall Moses and Matt Pilgrim are seniors. That leaves Roger Franklin and Jarred Shaw as experienced forwards. Mike Cobbins, a redshirting freshman, still draws raves from the coaching staff. But there’s a noticeable lack of muscle.
Trouble is, there’s little unsigned talent left in the prep ranks. And getting in late on what is available won’t be easy. Maybe the Cowboys can have some luck with some other Juco players.
Here are a few names to monitor as the Cowboys re-start their recruiting efforts:
PG Cezar Guerrero. A 5-11 prep point man in California, Guerrero is the best point guard still unsigned. A number of schools are involved and the Cowboys are late to the dance. But don’t count them out.
SG Tony Kimbro. A 6-4 prep shooter out of Louisville, Kimbro has been on the Cowboys’ radar for some time. The Cowboys need shooters, clearly.
PG Sam Grooms. At the Juco level, Grooms would likely be the top target — of several teams. The 6-1 guard, who plays for the nation’s No. 2 JC in Florida, is garnering interest from Florida, North Carolina and Kansas as well.
PG Anthony Hickey. The Cowboys are the most prominent program on the 5-10 point man out of Kentucky, but they may be aiming higher.
SF Anthony Norris. A lot of familiar names are in on this 6-7 forward from Houston, including Baylor, Oklahoma, Colorado and others.
SG Zeke Chapman. More like a combo guard at 6-2, Chapman may answer dual needs for the Cowboys.
SG Josh Richardson. An under-the-radar prospect from Edmond Santa Fe, the 6-5 Richardson is picking up some late interest.
PG Kevin Amayo. A 6-4 guard from New Jersey, Amayo would offer size the Cowboys currently lack at the position.
SG Ben Dillard. Another prep option out of Texas.
SF Ahmad Ibrahim. A 6-5 prep player out of Houston.