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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rose Creates a Glut at PG for Tigers in '07-'08

Three may be a crowd for Tigers
Blue chipper will create point guard glut; Calipari says it's OK

By Dan Wolken
November 9, 2006

When Derrick Rose, the nation's No. 1 high school point guard, announced Saturday that he'd attend the University of Memphis next year, it was cause for most Tigers fans to celebrate a landmark commitment in program history.

For others, however, it was reason to prove that sometimes even good news isn't good enough. A small segment of the Memphis fan base bombarded Internet message boards and talk radio shows, worried about how Rose's arrival will affect freshman point guard Willie Kemp.

But as Kemp explained Wednesday, that concern was misplaced.

"Man, I feel good," Kemp said. "I want great players here. If Derrick is a point guard, we can work together -- me, him and Andre (Allen). We're trying to win. It's not about who's playing or whatever. We're just trying to win a national championship."

To be fair, Memphis' situation will be somewhat unusual in 2006-07.

A year ago, when Kemp chose Memphis after an intense recruiting battle with Tennessee, it seemed Memphis coach John Calipari would be able to cross "elite point guard" off his wish list for the next few years.

But it didn't stop Calipari from pursuing Rose, a consensus top-five player nationally who selected Memphis over Indiana and Illinois this past weekend.

In the process, he became arguably the most highly regarded prep player to ever pick the Tigers.

Meanwhile, Memphis will also have junior Andre Allen, who is technically a walk-on but will play scholarship minutes this year and next.

Though Calipari can't comment specifically about Rose until Memphis receives his signed letter of intent -- it's expected to arrive by mail within the week -- he said there's no reason two point guards can't star for the Tigers.

That's because Memphis' offense is based on a driving motion, meaning there's always room for quick players who can handle the ball and get to the rim off the dribble.

"You can have two point guards playing," Calipari said.

"I told Willie that. You can have two point guards and a backup point guard and still be fine, and the guys that are supposed to be playing will play. This offense was designed for two point guards and two perimeter guys."

Calipari has already started using two point guards at once. Though he said Wednesday that Kemp will start the Tigers' Nov. 16 opener against Jackson State with Allen coming off the bench, it's possible they could be on the floor at the same time, as they were for a stretch in Monday's exhibition game against Christian Brothers University.

"I feel like we both can play at the same time," Kemp said.

"Me and Andre played at the same time Monday night, so yeah, we can play together. It doesn't matter who's out there playing point guard. I think he can come in and play because he's a great player, and if both of us are out there on the floor, I think it will help our team out a lot."

Kemp, in fact, liked the idea so much that he actively helped recruit Rose when he was in town on his official visit Oct. 13.

"He was with me all the time," Kemp said.

"He stayed over at the house with me. We talk on the phone. We're really close. I think he's a great player. We've got good players here, and with him coming next year, it's going to be helping our team out."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

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