061125 NU-Akron03

061125 NU-Akron03 - Sports DENNIS STIERER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Lewiston, NY - Rydell Brooks (34) of Niagara University brings the ball inside during heavy guarding by the University of Akron during Saturday evening action.

Rydell Brooks has left the Niagara University basketball program for personal reasons, head coach Joe Mihalich confirmed Monday. Reached hours after the announcement, Mihalich declined further comment.

Brooks started 30 of 35 games in 2006-07, averaging 18 minutes and 4.7 points. During the Purple Eagles’ late-season surge, Brooks started every game, but rarely played more than the first few minutes of each half.

It’s been rumored that the 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard intends to transfer to the University of Akron, last season’s Mid-American Conference regular-season champion. Zips spokesman Gregg Bach said in an e-mail that he doesn’t expect Brooks transferring to Akron and that there isn’t a scholarship available for him there.

Brooks, who will be a sophomore in the fall, led Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio, to three consecutive City Series championships.

Niagara finished 23-12 last season, winning 12 straight, including the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament and an NCAA opening round game, before losing to Kansas in the first round of the NCAA.

The Purple Eagles graduated guard Lorenzo Miles, but return backcourt players Tyrone Lewis, Stanley Hodge, Andrew Patterson and walk-on David Cirincione. Lewis and Hodge figure to be starters next season, along with swingman Charron Fisher.

New Jersey point guard Anthony Nelson has reportedly committed to Niagara and transfers Rob Garrison (Connecticut) and Bilal Benn (Villanova) will become eligible for the 2008-09 season.

Freshman guard Javonte Clanton announced he was transferring out of Niagara in December, though his name has yet to be removed from the team roster on PurpleEagles.com.

Contact reporter Jonah Bronstein at 282-2311, ext. 2258.