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Gusmug Big news for Stan Heath's basketball team, as the NCAA on Wednesday granted a hardship waiver to freshman forward Gus Gilchrist that will allow him to play for the Bulls after the semester break in December.

Gilchrist, a 6-foot-10 power forward who transferred to USF from Maryland this summer, will miss the first six games of USF's season but will be eligible for the entire Big East season. His scoring and versatility will be a huge boost in Heath's second season with USF.

"We're all excited. I've already gotten about five text messages from his teammates. Dominique Jones was the first to call," Heath said. "He gives us a guy on the front line who can score and rebound, a true player who can compete against the best players in our league. He has a great opportunity in front of him."

USF had been waiting to hear from the NCAA on Gilchrist since submitting the hardship waiver in August. He originally signed with Virginia Tech out of high school, then asked to be released from that letter following the campus shootings in Blacksburg. He enrolled at Maryland in January, but opted to transfer again this summer after learning of an ACC policy that requires players to surrender a year of eligibility if they transfer between ACC schools, leaving him with only two and a half seasons with the Terrapins.

Gilchrist is one of the most decorated recruits ever to come to USF -- rated him as the nation's No. 9 center in 2007, and ranked him as the No. 52 prospect at any position in his class. He considers himself a power forward, but Heath said he could help the Bulls at both frontcourt positions, where the team has limited depth.

"He has the skills of a four (power forward) but the size, and especially the height for a guy inside," Heath said. "Like the other freshmen, he's still learning our system, but he's a guy that makes a lot of positive plays. He'll make a huge impact on the team."

USF finishes its preseason Monday against the University of Tampa, then opens its season Nov. 14 at home against SMU. Gilchrist, like guard Mike Mercer, won't be eligible until the fall semester ends, which coincides with the Bulls' seventh game, at home Dec. 14 against Niagara.

-- Greg Auman, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 5, 2008 5:01pm]


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