Sunday, September 21, 2003

Xavier's Sato garners attention

Guard touted as All-American

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier guard Romain Sato keeps popping up on preseason All-America teams, none more impressive than this week when Athlon Sports college basketball magazine placed him on its first-team All-America team.

This is interesting because Sato has never been considered for Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year award, much less won one. Yet here he is on the eve of his senior season, poised to make a run at All-America teams.

Of course, the reason Sato was an afterthought for three years in the Atlantic 10 was because of his frontcourt teammate, David West, back-to-back-to-back A-10 Player of the Year and last year's Associated Press National Player of the Year.

While West's reign may have limited Sato's national attention (It's hard for voters to look your way if you're not even the best player on your team unless you play at Duke), what West did last year can only help Sato this year as it is no longer unheard of for Xavier to produce first-team all-Americans.

Sato won't go into the season with the same fanfare as West, but he will play the same go-to role as West.

How Sato manages that role at the start of the season against Indiana, Mississippi State and Alabama is important, but not nearly as critical as how well he plays during the A-10 season, when team championships and individual accolades are won as West proved last year.

HOT ASSISTANT: Xavier assistant Sean Miller has been mentioned by ESPN's Andy Katz as well as preseason magazines as one of the top assistants in the country who is ready for a Division I head coaching job. Last year, Miller was a finalist for the Illinois State job before ISU athletic director Perk Weisenburger hired Arkansas-Little Rock head coach Porter Moser.

Miller is not likely to be passed over for much longer. The job he's done at Xavier in recruiting and coaching is impressive and should land him interviews after the season.

OTHERS CITED: Athlon also highlighted Cincinnati's James White as the No. 1 transfer in the nation and Sato as the No. 2 slasher behind North Carolina State's Julius Hodge.

PRO SCENE: Former Xavier big man Torraye Braggs signed with the Houston Rockets, and will participate in the team's training camp, which begins Sept. 29. Braggs played in Greece and Israel last year.

• The Yakima Sun Kings of the Continental Basketball Association chose former Cincinnati guard Leonard Stokes in the fourth round of the league's draft this week with the 27th overall pick. Brooks Hall, formerly of Dayton, went to the Idaho Stampede with the 32nd pick.



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