Detour by prep star leads him to Clemson

CLEMSON, S.C. --- Noel Johnson had his Southern Cali-fornia gear ready and his bags packed for the West Coast.


Instead, the upheaval in the Trojans' program that included the departure of coach Tim Floyd and several key players led Johnson to Clemson.

"I just wanted to come home," said Johnson, of Fayetteville, Ga.

Instead of a four-hour plane ride, Johnson's just a 90-minute drive from his friends and family.

Johnson and Clemson's other incoming freshmen -- 6-foot-9 McDonald's All-American Milton Jennings; 6-8 forward Devin Booker, the brother of Clemson star Trevor; and 6-4 guard Donte Hill -- met with the media Wednesday.

It's a group Johnson's joked should be called the "Fab Four," although if he stuck to his original plan, he'd have been making the same observations about Southern Cal's newcomers.

Johnson was part of a stellar class recruited by Floyd. He committed early and enjoyed a worry-free senior season at Fayette County High School.

Then, he said, came troubling news on many fronts that had Johnson rethinking his pledge.

First in April were Floyd's discussions with Arizona about its basketball vacancy, which he eventually turned down.

Then in May, reported that Louis Johnson, a former associate of ex-Southern Cal star O.J. Mayo's, told federal and NCAA investigators that Floyd paid $1,000 in cash to Rodney Guillory, who steered Mayo to Southern Cal.

Noel Johnson and his family had heard enough and asked the school for his release.

Floyd stepped down in June, saying he couldn't offer the level of enthusiasm the Trojans deserved.

Johnson also considered Georgia Tech and Louisiana State before picking Clemson.

- Clemson coach Oliver Purnell has scheduled a second fundraiser for Coaches vs. Cancer and hopes to surpass the $100,000 he presented the group one year ago.

Purnell will join his wife in playing host to "Oliver & Vicky Purnell's TigerFest '09" on Oct. 6 at the conference center on campus.


LOUISVILLE, Ky. --- A complaint filed with a police sex-offense unit by a woman accused of trying to extort Louisville coach Rick Pitino won't be prosecuted because it lacks supporting evidence, a Kentucky prosecutor said Wednesday.

Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney David Stengel said he was taking no action on the complaint Karen Cunagin Sypher filed last week with Louisville police. Sypher has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to extort money from Pitino and lying to the FBI.



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