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Odom Will Turn Pro After All

June 18, 1999

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Sophomore forward Lamar Odom, who sought this week to pull out of the NBA draft despite having signed with an agent, will turn pro after all.

Rhode Island announced Friday evening that it will not seek a waiver that would allow Odom, considered a top five prospect in the draft, to return to college basketball.

Odom, who played only one season with the Rams, lost his collegiate eligibility May 26 when he signed a contract with an agent. But he soon changed his mind.

``During his time away, he realized he was just a piece of property,″ assistant athletic director John Vanner said Thursday. Odom’s agent resigned Tuesday.

Rhode Island officials spent four days deciding whether they had enough of a case to appeal to the NCAA for a waiver of its eligibility rules. In the end, they bailed out.

``They didn’t really feel there was enough of a case,″ school spokesman Mike Ballweg said Friday. He refused to say on which grounds the university considered making an appeal, citing a concern for Odom’s privacy.

The 6-foot-10 Odom led Rhode Island in scoring (17.6) and rebounding (9.4) last season. He hit a 25-footer at the buzzer as Rhode Island beat Temple in the Atlantic 10 tournament championship game.

Odom now has to convince NBA teams that he has a strong commitment to the league. Last weekend, he skipped a league-wide physical. He later missed workouts with the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls.

But Ballweg said Odom’s future is not totally bleak.

``The NBA certainly is an attractive option. It isn’t his first. But playing for $12 million is not a bad option,″ he said, referring to the contract value a top draft pick can sign.

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