NCAA prospects bouncing back

JASON PAUL -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

It was a dry year for the class of 2006 in lining up NCAA basketball scholarships, but that won't be the case this season.

Many of the best graduating players in the Toronto area were unable to secure scholarship offers for the 2006-07 NCAA season because of a change in academic requirements to qualify. Instead of taking part in the beginning of the U.S. college season, a handful of players have been forced to enter prep school or junior college programs to meet the new NCAA clearinghouse requirements.

"There was a big drop," said influential club coach Ro Russell, who runs the Toronto-based Toronto Academy Prep School.

"There were only one or two guys from the GTA to go D1 (Division 1) and something like 20 went to junior college or prep, whereas normally it's the opposite."

The top player from last season, 6-foot-9 forward Marvell Waithe of Laurier, had committed to Loyola University Chicago for 2006-07 but he didn't qualify.

Instead, he's playing for TAPS this season, and last week made a verbal commitment to Rutgers University for 2007-08.

The NCAA clearinghouse, which sets out the guidelines for student eligibility, has increased the core-course requirements for Ontario students from a minimum of two classes to 14 (that number will increase to 16 for the class of 2008).

"Marvell was a prominent victim of the clearinghouse rule change," Russell said. "What would have been academically accepted in the past isn't now, so he has to retake some courses."

Other players in a similar position who recently committed for 2007-08: Mike Luby (TAPS), a 6-foot-11 forward, to Fairleigh-Dickinson University; and D.J. Wright (TAPS), a 6-foot-7 forward, to Louisiana State University.

Meanwhile, 5-foot-9 guard Andrew (Webb) Cunningham (TAPS, ex-Eastern) will attend Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. -- one of the top junior colleges in the U.S. -- for second semester.

A couple players secured scholarships during the early signing period, which ended Nov. 15. Paul Campbell (ex-Northview), a 6-foot-10 forward playing at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, has signed with Winthrop University.

Chretien Lukusa (Eastern Commerce), a 6-foot-3 guard, has signed to play with Binghamton University.


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