dd Kitwana Rhymer to the list of academic success stories for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball program.
Rhymer was ineligible to play as a freshman, due to NCAA freshman eligibility standards. But recent NCAA rule changes allow players to earn back their lost year of eligibility if they complete their degree requirements in four years.
According to UMass coach Steve Lappas, the senior center, who needed to complete his degree requirements in order to join the team on its trip to Greece, has fulfilled those requirements, and will be around another year.
"It's pretty official," Lappas said. "He's going to Greece."
Rhymer joins former Minutemen Tyrone Weeks and Monty Mack and Minutewoman Sabriya Mitchell, who also were academically ineligible but earned back their lost years. Former UMass Prop. 48 player Lari Ketner completed his degree in four years, but he did it before the NCAA allowed nonqualifiers to regain eligibility.
Lappas is still waiting to hear whether Raheim Lamb and Anthony Anderson, who both sat out last year due to Prop. 48 regulations, will be eligible to make the trip to Greece.
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UMass still has one game to fill on its 2001-02 schedule, after the Minutemen and Boston University couldn't find a suitable date, and it appears likely that Arkansas-Little Rock will come to the Mullins Center. That game has not been finalized, but Lappas confirmed the possibility.
"There's a good chance," he said.
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This summer marks a change in the NCAA's recruiting calendar. Previously, coaches could scout rising seniors from July 8-31. But in an effort to decrease the importance of summer recruiting, the NCAA made this week a dead (no contact) week.
Lappas is not allowed to comment on any potential recruits, but he said he and assistants Chris Walker and Andrew Theokas have been well received in their early recruiting efforts.
"It's been very positive," Lappas said.
With forward Gabriel Lee, who is sitting out next year as a Prop. 48, getting one scholarship in 2002-03, the Minutemen have four scholarships to offer potential recruits, since Rhymer, Jackie Rogers, Eric Williams, Shannon Crooks and Ronell Blizzard all will use up their remaining eligibility this season.