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Saying his mind is "focused completely on basketball," former Oklahoma two-sport standout Ryan Minor has signed a contract with the Oklahoma City Cavalry.
The 6-7, 225-pound Minor was released last week by the Philadelphia 76ers, who selected him in the second round of the NBA Draft last June. Earlier that same month, Minor was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and later played with their minor-league club in Bluefield, W.Va., a decision Minor believes led to his downfall with the Sixers (see related story).
After meeting with friends and family, Minor said he decided last Friday he would sign with the Cavalry. "My dad (Dale) was for it all the way," Minor said. "A lot of my friends also were supportive. Plus, (OU head basketball) Coach (Kelvin) Sampson thought this would be the quickest way to get to the NBA."
"Ryan is a tremendous talent," Sampson said. "I absolutely believe this is the best thing he could have done."
Another option for Minor would have been to play pro basketball overseas, which would have been far more financially lucrative than playing in the CBA, where the average salary for a rookie is approximately $800 per week.
However, the NBA and CBA have a solid working relationship.
Asked if he seriously considered playing overseas, Minor said. "No, not at all. That's a short-term thing. You go over there to make money and - who knows? - you might not even get paid. You hear all the horror stories from people who have gone over there (and not gotten paid). Money's not that big a thing for me right now. Having an opportunity to play is."
Minor participated in the Cavs' two practice sessions Monday at the Columbia Presbyterian Center For Healthy Living.
"He's trying to pick up everything we've put in, but I will say he's a fast learner," Cavalry third-year head coach Russ Bergman said. "I like the fact that even with the size he has, he can still shoot the ball. Basically, he can learn the rest."
"He's a hard-nosed player with great offensive abilities," said director of player personnel/assistant head coach Jim Sleeper. "We've got to see how he fits in. Right now, it's a little premature (to evaluate Minor's potential with the team)."
The Cavs made the 22-year-old Minor the 58th overall selection in this year's CBA Draft and, therefore, retained his rights for two years.
"I felt this was a good opportunity for me to go somewhere and play," Minor said. "I just thought this was the best chance for me to do something good for myself. This'll be fun."
However, Bergman promises it also will be hard work for Minor, who left as OU's sixth-leading scorer (1,946), becoming the first player in school history to amass 1,800 points, 700 rebounds and 150 steals for his career.
Expected to join the Cavs' ever-growing roster today is guard Gaylon Nickerson, last year's CBA Newcomer of the Year who averaged 20.3 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 37 games with Oklahoma City last season. Nickerson, who played collegiately at Northwestern State in Alva, was one of the last players cut from the Sacramento Kings' roster last week.
"There's already a lot of competition (at Minor's position), and it's not going to get any easier with Gaylon coming in," Bergman said.
On Wednesday, it's anticipated point guard Elmer Bennett will join the team. Bennett, a fifth-year player out of Notre Dame, averaged 18.4 points, 9.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 18 games for the Cavs last season before departing for overseas.
Also added to the roster Monday was rookie center Terrell Bell of Georgia. The 6-10, 240-pound Bell was selected in the second round (50th overall) by the Houston Rockets and was the Cavs' top draft choice in the CBA draft. The Rockets released Bell last week.
The addition of Nickerson and Bennett would give the Cavs 19 players on their training camp roster, one more than the maximum allowed under league rules. At least one player is expected to be cut today. The final 10-man roster must be determined by Nov. 13.
The Cavalry opens its season against the defending CBA champion Sioux Falls Skyforce on Nov. 15 inside the Myriad. Single-game tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m. at the Myriad box office.Archive ID: 667377