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Niagara deep at guard even without Brooks

Rydell Brooks started 30 of 35 games as a freshman for a Niagara team that went to the NCAA Tournament but announced Tuesday he's leaving the school for "personal reasons." Normally, you'd be very concerned about losing a season-long starter but not in this case. I'm betting this is about nothing more than playing time. Brooks, who didn't show a lot of offensive skills, started seeing less time as Tyrone Lewis emerged as a second-half star last season. And he certainly saw the writing on the wall when he played just 20 minutes combined in the Purple Eagles' two NCAA games.

Niagara has also reportedly signed guard Anthony Nelson of Plainfield, N.J. to a letter of intent and has confirmed the transfers of Rob Garrison (Connecticut) and Bilal Benn (Villanova), both of whom will be eligible in 2008-09. Stanley Hodge is coming back for his senior year as well. All of them would likely leapfrog Brooks in the pecking order. The word is Brooks would like to play for Akron, his hometown school, but the Zips don't have a scholarship for him.

---Mike Harrington

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