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Maryland Retires Steve Francis’ No.

February 17, 2002

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) _ Steve Francis, who rocketed to fame in the NBA after one stellar season at Maryland, on Sunday became the 12th Terrapin to have his jersey number hung above the rafters of Cole Field House.

Francis entered Maryland as a junior college transfer and averaged 17 points and three steals on the 1998-99 squad that won a school-record 28 games. He left for the pros after his junior season.

Now an All-Star with the Houston Rockets, Francis returned to Maryland on Sunday for the ceremony in which his name and number joined those of such players as Len Elmore, Len Bias, Tom McMillen and Joe Smith.

``I never dreamed of something like this,″ Francis said. ``This ranks right up there with being drafted and being on the All-Star team.″

Francis received a standing ovation as his No. 23 jersey number was unveiled during pregame festivities, then grabbed a seat on the Maryland bench to the No. 3 Terrapins take on top-ranked Duke.

``I’m ready to go in,″ he said at halftime. ``I’m looking for someone to find me some extra shorts.″

Francis, who helped the Terrapins reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament in his only season, remains a presence at the school. He has assisted at Maryland coach Gary Williams’ annual youth camps at Cole, and last September, Francis hosted a dinner for nearly 200 Maryland students displaced after the campus was struck by a tornado.

``Steve was a very big part of our record-setting 28-win season,″ Williams said. ``He was a spectacular player in college and his team play was outstanding. Steve has gone on to represent the University of Maryland in the NBA at a very high level, and we are proud to honor him with this distinction.″

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