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Cal U lands ex-WVU star

| Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2004

CALIFORNIA -- California University basketball coach Bill Brown knew he didn't have a good chance of landing Penn Hills star Drew Schifino four years ago.

"He had a lot of options and was definitely Division I," admitted Brown, referring to one of the biggest catches in his eight years.

The 6-3 Schifino was one of the WPIAL's premier players in 2000. He averaged 30 points per game as a senior for the Indians and set a WPIAL playoff scoring record with 147 points in four games. Schifino led his team to the PIAA Class AAAA championship game.

He finished with 2,318 points and closed his schoolboy career as the MVP in both the Rising Star and Pittsburgh Hoops Classics.

The 6-3 Schifino ended up at Bridgton Academy, where he averaged 28 points and five rebounds in the prestigious New England Prep School Athletic Conference.

Schifino then went to West Virginia, where he started as a freshman and sophomore before he was dismissed from the team Jan. 12 by coach John Beilein for questionable comments to the media. Schifino's comments came after a Mountaineers' loss at Notre Dame five days earlier when his NCAA-best streak of 48 straight games with at least 10 points was snapped.

Schifino said all along he was suspended for the team's next game, but since he didn't agree with the decision, he decided to miss a practice and film session. That, he said, was what led to his dismissal.

After finishing the school year at WVU, Schifino opted for Middle Tennessee State University since his older brother, Jake, a Tennessee Titans' receiver, lives about 30 minutes from the MTSU campus.

Schifino, however, didn't stay in Tennessee long.

He told MTSU coach Kermit Davis he wanted to leave and find a place to play right away.

The place he picked was California University, a NCAA Division II school, which means he doesn't have to sit out the 2004-2005 campaign.

Was Brown surprised that Schifino will be doing his thing at Hamer Hall the upcoming campaign for the Vulcans?

"I've been in this business for such a long time that nothing surprises me," answered Brown. "There's always surprises and disappointments. That's just athletics."

Brown looks for Schifino, who trailed only Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony in the Big East scoring race as a sophomore in 2003 with a 20-point average, to make his presence felt at Cal.

"He'll have an impact on us," said Brown. "He brings experience and the ability to score. I don't think we've ever had a player put up the numbers he has in Division I."

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