Buckeyes Get Help At Guard With Transfer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State filled a void in its backcourt with the transfer of a guard who didn't play last season.

A scholarship was available for Emonte Jernigan because highly recruited Ricardo Billings of Detroit failed to qualify academically.

Jernigan can play immediately because he left Oregon State in March 2001 and skipped last season while taking courses at a junior college near his home in Richmond, Calif. He has two seasons of eligibility left.

"It's funny how things happen," said Jernigan, who told Buckeyes assistant coach LaMonta Stone on Tuesday that he was transferring. "I wasn't expecting to end up there."

Jernigan said he also had a scholarship offer from Saint Louis, but chose Ohio State because he wanted a chance to win right away.

"I felt Ohio State was not rebuilding, that they already have what they need, they just have to fill a few spots and they should be fine," he said.

The 6-foot-2 Jernigan averaged 17.5 points as a freshman at Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College before spending one season at Oregon State, where he played in 19 games and started five. He averaged 5.4 points and shot 32.3 percent from 3-point range, where he took nearly 75 percent of his shots.

He said he left the Beavers because their deliberate offensive style didn't suit his game.

He joins an Ohio State backcourt that lost Brian Brown and Boban Savovic. Holdovers include seniors Brent Darby and Sean Connolly and sophomore Brandon Fuss-Cheatham.

The Buckeyes backcourt will get help in the 2003-04 season when transfers J.J. Sullinger and Tony Stockman become eligible to play.

Billings' future is unclear. He will either spend this year at Ohio State as a non-scholarship student, play at a prep school for a year or play two years at a junior college.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)