Francis starts flood

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Steve Francis spent just one season at Maryland, helping the Terrapins to a school-record 28 wins.
Now the NBA beckons, and he is expected to be one of the top picks in the June draft.
“I believe it is time to take the next step and take on a new challenge,” Francis said Wednesday in announcing his decision. “It’s time to start a new and exciting chapter in my life.”
The 6-foot-3 guard, a second-team All-American, averaged 17 points a game for Maryland, which was once ranked as high as No. 2 and lost to St. John’s in the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.
“I’m really proud of Steve,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “I don’t have any doubt he’s ready to play in the NBA. It is obvious Steve will be a very high lottery pick. Very few people in their lifetime get an opportunity like Steve has in front of him.”
Francis plans to finish his degree, adding that money was not the overriding factor in his decision to turn pro.
“It was just something that I weighed in,” he said.
Francis considered entering the NBA draft last season after playing junior college ball at San Jacinto in Texas and Allegany in Maryland.
Francis, who grew up in Takoma Park, a few miles from the Maryland campus, chose to play for the Terrapins instead.
In his first year in Division I, he led the Terrapins (28-6) in scoring (17.2) and 3-point shooting (.388) and led the Atlantic Coast Conference in steals (2.8).
Francis joins forward Albert White of Missouri in leaving college early.
Others who might enter the NBA draft are: Duke’s William Avery and Elton Brand, the latter the national player of the year; Khalid El-Amin and Richard Hamilton of national champion Connecticut; Lamar Odom of Rhode Island; Ron Artest of St. John’s; Baron Davis of UCLA; Jumaine Jones of Georgia; Chris Porter of Auburn; and Mateen Cleaves of Michigan State.