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Prep Basketball Star Ronnie Fields Injured in Car Wreck

February 27, 1996

CHICAGO (AP) _ The basketball future of Ronnie Fields, considered one of the best high school players in the country, was in doubt after he broke a bone in his neck in a car accident.

Fields, who helped lead Farragut High to the Chicago Public League title last year, has a fractured cervical bone and was in traction, although he could move his hands and feet, said James Henri, administrator for Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

An orthopedist, Dr. Paul Meyer, planned to test Fields today and determine whether surgery would be required, Henri said.

Doctors would not estimate how long Fields would be sidelined, although he was certain to miss the first game for Farragut (21-3) in the Chicago Public League playoffs Wednesday, his 19th birthday.

``They have him in a brace to keep him steady,″ Farragut coach William Nelson said. ``They don’t want him doing anything crazy, like play on Wednesday or anything. I think that’s the best thing for him because knowing Ronnie, he’d try to trick me and he’d try to convince me to let him play.″

The 6-foot-3 guard, a three-time Associated Press All-State player, was injured early Monday in rural DuPage County when he swerved the rental car he was driving to try to avoid something in the road. The car slid and slammed twice into a guard rail, police said.

Mary Jo Wiess, a spokeswoman for the DuPage County sheriff’s police, said Fields was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident and an airbag deployed. Other reports quoted Fields as telling friends he was not wearing a seat belt. Fields was able to walk out of the car, Wiess said.

Police did not know how fast the car was going at the time of the accident. There was no indication that drinking was involved and Fields was not ticketed.

An acrobatic player with a 40-inch vertical leap, the Farragut senior has been compared to and wears the same No. 23 as Michael Jordan. He is averaging more than 30 points and 10 rebounds this season and is scheduled to play in next month’s McDonald’s All-America game.

Because of lower college entrance test scores, he is flirting with the idea of following his former teammate Kevin Garnett and skipping college to go directly into the NBA. He plans to attend DePaul University if he qualifies on his ACT.

Garnett, only 19, has distinguished himself this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves after being the fifth overall selection in the draft.

Garnett was in Chicago on Monday for tonight’s Timberwolves-Bulls game. He and several current top Public League players came to the hospital to wish Fields well.

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