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Kent devotes spring to hoops.

Byline: Bob Rodman The Register-Guard

Jordan Kent, one of the University of Oregon's most dynamic and talented track and field athletes, will redshirt in that sport this spring to concentrate on his role as a wing on the Oregon men's basketball team.

"Obviously, it was a real tough decision and I put a lot of time into it," Kent said Tuesday. "There were a lot of factors that went into it."

As a freshman last spring, despite being bothered by a slight groin strain that limited his long jump duty, Kent scored for the Ducks in the Pac-10 championships, won the 200 meters at the NCAA West Regional meet, qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 200 and ran a leg on Oregon's 4x400 relay team.

His time of 20.99 seconds in the 200 ranks sixth on the UO career list. He also ranks eighth on the 100 list with a time of 10.46. His best long jump - 24 feet, 3/4 inches - came in last season's Pepsi Team Invitational, the same meet that unfolds at Hayward Field on Saturday.

Last season, however, Kent was coming into track after redshirting in basketball - and looking ahead to a basketball season in which playing time, behind seniors Luke Jackson, Andre Joseph and James Davis, would be hard to get.

As a redshirt freshman this past basketball season, Kent played in 29 games, all off the bench, for his father, coach Ernie Kent. Not only did the Oregon season just end last week, in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament, but the Ducks will need an even greater contribution from Jordan Kent next season, when, as a potential starter at 6-feet-5, 200 pounds, he'll be expected to improve his 30.2 percent shooting and ball-handling to augment his stellar defensive abilities.

Slowed by injuries before and during the basketball season, Kent said that "as a competitor, I felt I could have given so much more to the team, and better shown what I'm capable of. When you have a season like I had, you feel like you were a shadow of the player you can be."

Kent met with UO track coach Martin Smith earlier this week.

"I know he thought this through, that he talked with his family," Smith said. "He's a very mature young man. He came to his decision wisely and patiently.

"This is a time Jordan felt he needed to focus on developing his basketball game, of making a full commitment to his teammates and that program."

The track team's loss of Kent will be felt, Smith said, "but we don't think in those terms."

"We always consider two-sport athletes as a tremendous bonus when we get them," Smith said. "There are difficult demands on those athletes' time. We are thankful when we have them. We count our blessings."

Though Kent is on a basketball scholarship, the door isn't closed on his UO track career.

"He knows he is always welcome and always wanted," Smith said. "Jordan wants to improve and develop his basketball game and skills, but he is leaving the window open for track."

Kent, who led Churchill to back-to-back state track titles and won individual championships in the 100, 200, 400 and long jump as a senior, said his year away from track "will not hurt me. It might take some work to get back where I was, but it's nothing that will slow me down permanently."

As replacements for Kent on the track, the Ducks have two sophomores - Matt Scherer and Travis Anderson - and junior college transfer Kedar Inico, who have run the 400 in 46.47, 46.94 and 46.39, respectively. Leonidas Watson, another junior college transfer, has PRs of 25-8 in the long jump and 53-0 in the triple jump.

"I know I'd score at the Pac-10 meet," Kent said, "but they should be fine without me."

As for the future, Kent said, "If I've given basketball an honest try this spring and summer and don't improve as much as I want to, and didn't feel comfortable after all this work, then I'll know track is my thing to do."

"I'll know that I gave basketball my best shot," he said. "Obviously, I wish I could be out there (on the track), but at the same time we've got a big year coming up in basketball."

Register-Guard reporter Bob Clark contributed to this report
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Title Annotation:Sports; Oregon's two-sport athlete will redshirt the track season to focus on basketball
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 7, 2004
Words:735
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