Michael P. Davis
Despite a nine-game losing streak and more turnovers than Mrs. Baird's, the future of the Cougars looks bright.
With the announcement of Donald Emanuel and Moses Malone Jr.'s commitment to the University of Houston, there is light at the bottom of the black hole UH is currently playing in.
Enter Rashard Lewis. This man could be the first savior in 2000 years, and the Cougars are waiting to repent for the sins of another losing season.
The 6-foot-11-inch senior from Elsik High School could help bring an ailing program back to the days of Phi Slama Jama and create the same excitement as the "game of the century."
Imagine going to see the Cougars in the Astrodome. Imagine the Cougars in the top ten in the nation as opposed to the top ten of Conference USA's National Division. Rashard could be the answer to a Cougar-lover's prayer.
"He does everything. Defense. He is an assist man who is fundamentally sound," said Elsik head coach Daryl Hartfiel. "Rashard is the senior leader. He is the captain and center."
At 30.4 points per game, Lewis is a scoring machine. Lewis has just under 700 points this season and scores just slightly less than Wilt Chamberlain.
With 71 assists for the season thus far, Hartfiel said Lewis is an unselfish team player. "He is focused on what is going on now with the team. He is a team player, a special person. He's not worried about himself."
Rumors abound that Lewis might make the jump straight to the NBA, which is feasible with a player of his caliber. "For an 18-year-old senior in high school, he is a complete player. He can play in the NBA. He has maturity and strength. He will make an immediate impact as a freshman in college," said Hartfiel.
When asked about Rashard's plans for his first year after graduation, Hartfiel was non-committal. "Things are on hold until after the (basketball) season. Rashard is low-key. We discuss things. His mom is a major influence. Rashard is very interested in the University of Houston."
Hartfiel said he and UH coach Alvin Brooks are "good friends," which just might help keep Lewis in "familiar territory."
Endless rules and regulations concerning NCAA recruiting make it difficult to determine where Lewis really stands regarding his future in basketball, but all indications are good for UH (provided the Cougars get him before LSU sends him a check). If mom is really that influential, let's hope she looks good in Cougar red. Rashard can be the final piece to the "2K Dynasty" where the University of Houston can win the first national championship of the 21st century.
Lewis has gotten play on the nationally-syndicated Jim Rome Show, where Romey quipped, "This kid has game."
According to recruiting expert John Granato, "Rashard is one of the best basketball players ever to come from Texas."
Until the season ends, Cougar fans can just watch Rashard "Money-Maker" Lewis do his thing. He plays hoops and he plays it really well. Hopefully, we can be writing about him this time next year as a Houston Cougar.
Rashard Lewis Statistics
(through 24 games)
Points per game: 30.4
shooting percentage: .308
free throws: 143/195