- The Washington Times - Friday, November 16, 2001

There's rebuilding, then there's rebuilding.

One could say Howard University faced the latter after going 1-27 two years ago. The ignominy of a one-win season is inescapable and doesn't exactly help team morale or recruiting.

But coach Frankie Allen took the reins of the Bison after that season and coaxed 10 victories from the squad in 2000-2001. Now instead of merely shooting for a .500 overall record and a middle-of-the-pack finish in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Howard could challenge for the conference title.

The Bison return their top six scorers, but it's the addition of two talented transfers that has fans talking. This isn't the same old Howard, which has had nine straight losing seasons, and people are starting to take notice.

The newcomers are forwards Aki Thomas and Kyle Williams, both of whom transferred from the University of Colorado and sat out last season under NCAA rules. Thomas, a 6-8 senior, led Howard in scoring in the team's first exhibition, and Williams, a 6-6 junior, did so in the second. Both will start.

The Bison can largely thank one of their assistant coaches, Aki Collins, for the infusion of talent. Collins, who was an assistant at Colorado two seasons ago, grew up with Thomas in Manhattan. Collins left for Howard when Allen was hired, bringing Thomas and Williams with him, and suddenly, the Bison are a force to be reckoned with.

"To me, it's all about going where you can play," said Thomas, who was not happy with his playing time in Colorado. "I'd be happy to be a part of [a turnaround], if we can."

Thomas and Williams, who has a sweet 3-point stroke, provide much-needed size for Howard. The Bison had to rely almost solely on scoring from their guards Ron Williamson, Ali Abdullah and Jonathan Stokes to stay in games last year. Now the points will come from a number of sources.

The arrival of Thomas and Williams means some important players on last season's team namely senior forward Darren Kennedy and sophomore guard Hekima Jackson have to take lesser roles. While on some teams that could create a problem, that doesn't seem the case with the Bison. Players like Abdullah and Kennedy were on that 1-27 team, and if it comes down to wins or points, the Bison surely will yield personal gain for team success.

"It's a tough adjustment," Allen said, "but these kids have a certain maturity about them."


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