Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Andre Drummond is back to being a walk-on

Back in late August, when Andre Drummond committed to UConn out of the blue.

The news itself was huge, but what made headlines and riled up sportswriters around the country was the fact UConn, who was dealing with NCAA sanctions and APR penalties, had been able to juke the numbers so that Drummond didn't count as a scholarship player. The way they did that was by taking a scholarship away from seldom-used Michael Bradley.

Well, it looks like we were wrong on that one. Gavin Keefe of the New London Day got the scoop, as Drummond told him on Tuesday afternoon "I'm thankful for what Mike was trying to do for me. I told Mike, 'Don't do that, man. I'll pay my way and take a scholarship next year. You don't have to give up a scholarship for me.'"

"It was my decision," Drummond continued. "That's not fair to him. He worked hard to get that scholarship. I'm not going to take something from somebody that's not mine. It was my decision to come late."

When this news first trickled about, I was confused. Why keep it from the public? Why take the PR hit? And, more importantly, how is Drummond allowed to be a walk-on? Doesn't the fact that he got recruited make him a scholarship player?

First of all, Drummond started out on scholarship. But, as he said to Keefe, Drummond didn't want to take Bradley's scholarship, so UConn's compliance department went to work trying to figure out how they could get Bradley back on scholarship. About midway through the semester, UConn finally got their answer: so long as a recruited player doesn't receive any institutional aid from the school, he can count as a walk-on.

UConn opted not to make an announcement because they felt that, when the time was right, Drummond, Bradley and their families would decide when they wanted the public to know. And yesterday was the day.

Congratulations to Bradley, who is once again a scholarship basketball player for the Huskies. And good for Drummond. He may be 18 years old, but he gets it.

I'm also sure that the money he'll get as a top five pick in the 2012 NBA Draft will make it really easy for him to shrug off those school loans.

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