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McGair: Billy Baron considering all options; Rakim Sanders to suit up for Warriors' Summer League team

July 1, 2012

Billy Baron

For someone who has been swept up by the winds of change on more than one occasion, Billy Baron finds himself in no particular hurry to make a decision.
Rather than rush to judgment and settle on what will be his third college stop, Baron is adhering to a wait-and-see approach regarding his impending landing destination. A female supporter who engaged in pleasant small talk with Baron on Saturday caught a glimpse of where his collective psyche stands.
Smiling as the question of “Where are you heading?” was posed to him, Baron simply replied, “I’m not in a rush,” words he repeated only a few moments later when speaking with this scribe.
“When I feel something’s right, I’ll do it. I’m not in a rush. I want to enjoy my summer,” remarked Baron, standing in the hallway outside the basketball gym at Bishop Hendricken High School, site of the shooting clinic orchestrated by older brother Jimmy along with noted hoops trainer and Cranston native Rob McClanaghan.
In the near two weeks since Billy Baron parted ways with URI, speculation has risen to a feverish pitch. He spent part of last week in West Lafayette, Ind. touring Purdue’s campus, a visit he dubbed as “serious” in terms of the interest he has in the Big Ten school.
“I liked (Purdue), but I’m still weighing all my options,” said Baron, who’s been rumored to be on Providence College’s radar in addition to Buffalo’s Canisius, where father and former Rhode Island head coach Jim is based (Sticking with PC, several school officials seemed receptive to the prospect of Baron becoming a Friar). “I want to see everything and then clear my mind.”
Changing gears slightly, Baron spoke passionately about his desire to play for his “TBD” school right away rather than comply with standard NCAA transfer regulations, which would require him to sit out the 2012-13 season. He noted that the process of applying for such a waiver would only take shape once he picks a place.
“That’s 100 percent of the situation, but you don’t know whether you can get the waiver until you commit to a school,” Baron explained. “To tell you the truth, I would probably have a better chance [of suiting up sooner rather than later] if I went to Canisius. The odds are probably better, but that waiver is a big thing – a real big thing.”
The idea of playing for his dad represented the sole underlying reason why Billy Baron transferred to URI from the University of Virginia in the first place. After Jim Baron was fired in March, Billy found himself in a quandary. He honestly said that he gave new Rams head coach Dan Hurley a fair shake, yet as Baron watched Hurley bring in a host of new players, he started to warm up to the realization that moving on represented his best option.
“I wanted to finish out the [academic] year and not make a decision to leave right away,” Baron said. “I was trying to see if I could fit because I didn’t feel like transferring again. The entire process is draining.
“You don’t want to go through something like this because it’s considered a setback. It’s something I didn’t want to go through,” Baron delved further. “I’ve always dreamed about having one career in one spot.”
While Baron, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, is technically heading into his junior season, he’s only played the equivalent of one full season (17 games with Virginia in 2010-11 and 20 with Rhody last season). He’s hopeful to land an additional year of eligibility on top of the two seasons that were on the table had he remained at URI.
“I’ve only played one season in two years so I could always apply for that fifth year,” says Baron. “You can’t throw that possibility out the window.”
Indeed, as Billy Baron has demonstrated already, nothing is completely out of bounds.
***
For Pawtucket’s Rakim Sanders, the disappointment of not hearing his name called during last Thursday’s NBA Draft quickly gave way to a genuine opportunity to make the pros. Shortly after the final pick was made, Sanders’ agent, Brian Samuels, received a phone call from the Golden State Warriors with an invitation for the 6-foot-5 swingman to join the team they will send to the Las Vegas Summer League, on tap for July 13-22 on UNLV’s campus.
“I told Rakim that not hearing his name called on June 28 is not a bad thing. It’s another small hurdle for him to clear,” said Samuels. “He’ll be given every opportunity to make (Golden State’s) roster.
Part of the reason why Samuels thought that pairing Sanders up with the Warriors – one of seven NBA teams the Fairfield graduate worked out for – represented sound strategy was twofold.
“Part of it is looking at available contracts and what might transpire during free agency, but taking all things into consideration, we firmly believe Rakim has a great shot at performing well in the summer league,” said the agent.

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