'Never say never': Gilchrist returns to Bulls
TAMPA -- USF forward Augustus Gilchrist, who abruptly left his teammates for two games and seemed to be all but gone from the Bulls, has made amends with coach Stan Heath and returned to the team, the school announced Friday.
"Augustus will practice today, but will not play against James Madison on Saturday," Heath said in a statement. "He has learned a valuable life lesson and I expect him to focus on teamwork and winning at USF."
Gilchrist, whose first game back will be Wednesday at Cleveland State, issued an apology through USF: "I'm excited to practice today and compete for USF. I let some personal issues get the best of me. I apologize to our team and to our fans."
After Wednesday night's win against Auburn, Heath seemed resigned to finishing the season without his top returning scorer from last season, saying "I'll never say never, but it just appears we're going in two different directions. I'll get a final decision (Thursday), but I'd like to get some closure hopefully."
Gilchrist, second on the team in scoring at 10.7 points per game, can make the Bulls a better team if his presence doesn't hurt the squad's chemistry -- before the season, Heath talked about his frontcourt being the best in the Big East, led by Gilchrist and senior Jarrid Famous. Junior Ron Anderson has emerged as the team's best rebounder, and sophomore Toarlyn Fitzpatrick has played well, especially in Gilchrist's absence.
USF opens its conference schedule Dec. 28 at Seton Hall, then plays at Connecticut before its home Big East opener Jan. 6 against Villanova.