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Pitt's Levance Fields signs with Russian team

| Saturday, July 18, 2009

Before the dust had settled from a disappointing experience with the Orlando Magic's NBA summer league team, Levance Fields already was seeking another chance to return to the court.

It didn't take long for the former Pitt point guard to get an assist from a Russian Super League team.

Fields, who last season helped Pitt to its first NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance, has signed a multiyear contract with Sparta St. Petersburg, said his agent, Keith Glass.

"He has a tremendous deal. At least two years guaranteed," Glass said Friday. "But he's got an (opt-out clause) next season, where he can leave only if he comes back to play in the NBA -- and I believe he can."

Glass would not reveal dollar figures, but he said the value of Fields' contract represented more than the NBA minimum, which increases next season to nearly $460,000 annually.

And though Fields' NBA prospects have dimmed a bit, Glass said, "He's in good shape right now."

After going undrafted, the 5-foot-10 Fields played a total of 25 minutes in two summer league games in Orlando. He averaged 4.5 points on 4-for-11 shooting to go with five assists. Fields did not see action in a game against the Indiana Pacers and former Duquesne guard Aaron Jackson, whom he faced for four seasons in college.

"Believe me, I'm not happy about it," Glass said. "When Levance did play, he was tremendous."

Fields was Pitt's third-leading scorer in 2008-09, averaging 10.7 points while playing 32.7 minutes per game. He led the Panthers with 7.5 assists per game.

During his four-year college career, Fields played in 100 of 131 games, starting all 36 last season, when Pitt posted a 31-5 record. He finished with 1,247 career points.

Meanwhile, Jackson's agent, Happy Walters, said the former Duquesne star could also play overseas.

"We're looking at a lot of options right now. I can't really say specifically where he might go, but there are a lot of possibilities," Walters said.

Jackson, who suffered a sprained ankle during a workout for the Boston Celtics just prior to joining the Pacers' summer league team, played in four games last week in Orlando.

In 86 minutes, the 6-4 point guard averaged 3.8 points on 6-for-13 shooting with 10 assists. But he was 0-for-4 on 3-pointers.

Jackson averaged 19.3 points and 5.7 assists per game last season and was runner-up for the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. He led Duquesne to a 21-13 record, its most victories in a season since 1970-71. His 194 assists last season total broke a school record set by Norm Nixon in 1977.

Nearly half of Jackson's 1,428 career points at Duquesne came last season (657). In his final game, he scored 46 points in a double-overtime loss at Virginia Tech in an NIT first-round game March 18.

"It's probably not in the cards for him in the NBA this year," said Walters, also the agent for former Pitt star DeJuan Blair, who Thursday signed a four-year deal with the San Antonio Spurs worth nearly $4 million.

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