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Not enough to live on with Sox
Basham shuns minor leagues to stay at UM


The Chicago White Sox weren’t going to pay Brett Basham “enough money to live on,” so the former Bearden High School baseball standout-turned college defensive wiz said he’ll return to college for his senior season.

Basham, statistically the Southeastern Conference’s top defensive catcher in 2008, said he’ll return to Ole Miss after turning down an undisclosed offer from the White Sox as a 16th round pick in Major League Baseball’s June draft.


“I enjoy playing college baseball, I enjoy the town of Oxford, I enjoy going to school here,” Basham said. “That was a big part of it. I’ve made a lot of good friends here. I love the coaching staff, they’ve been very, very good to me. … College baseball, you get to enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun. You get to play in front of big crowds. It’s more of a team set-up, I like that.”

As for the pros, “Scouts were telling me that I needed to go right now, because it would only hurt me to come back,” the 6-foot-2, 190-pound catcher said. “But I really don’t feel that way because the big knock on me was that I wasn’t big, I wasn’t the big, physical guy they were looking for. So I think if I came back and improved that, I think that would also help my hitting, improve the average as well as the power numbers.”

Basham, 21, said he’s looking to add “a higher playing weight” with added muscle to improve on a .261 batting average with two home runs and 29 RBIs. “I’d like to get to 205 [pounds] by Christmas time. I’m looking at 210 right now [by start of 2009 season],” he said.

“If I can get to that I think I’ll turn some heads maybe.”

A member of the inaugural All-SEC Defensive Team, Basham led SEC catchers in runners caught stealing (27) and in runners picked off (six) last season.

Without releasing details about his contract offer, Basham said he had no argument about the numbers.

“The contract was very fair for the round that I was picked in,” he said. “But I just didn’t feel that it was enough for me personally — I couldn’t live off of it, I guess you could say.

“They were more than generous, they were patient with me when I made my decision,” Basham added about White Sox officials. “They were very understanding when I finally told them that I decided to come back to school. … I really appreciated that. I lot of people would probably have pressured me.”

Saying his Rebels have a good nucleus of talent returning for 2009, “I always wanted to play in Omaha,” Basham added about the College World Series, where college baseball’s top eight teams gather annually in Nebraska’s biggest city. “I wanted one more shot to do that.”

Following the draft in early June, Basham said it took “about a week” to make his decision after talking to his parents, Bruce and Donna Basham, and UM coaches led by skipper Mike Bianco.

Basham, a exercise science major, said an uninterrupted pursuit of his degree also was a factor.

“I’m actually on track to graduate in four years … even though the White Sox said they would pay for it,” the rising senior said.

“But it was going to be hard, if I didn’t make it to the Big Leagues, to come back and finish school.”

 

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