TAMPA — USF forward Augustus Gilchrist, who abruptly left his teammates for two games and seemed to be all but gone from the program, has made amends with coach Stan Heath and returned, the school said Friday.
"Augustus will practice (Friday) but will not play against James Madison (today)," 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 (Friday) and compete for USF. I let some personal issues get the best of me. I apologize to our team and to our fans."
Neither Heath nor Gilchrist was available for further comment.
Gilchrist, a 6-foot-10 junior and the Bulls' top returning scorer, hasn't been with the team since Dec. 10, missing Sunday's loss at Kent State and Wednesday's win against Auburn.
Heath previously said it was Gilchrist's decision to step away for "philosophical differences."
After the Auburn game, Heath seemed resigned to finishing the season without Gilchrist, who is second on the team in scoring averaging 10.7 points per game.
"I'll never say never," Heath said at the time. "But it just appears we're going in two different directions. … Nobody is bigger than the program."
After facing Cleveland State, USF opens its conference schedule Dec. 28 at Seton Hall, then plays at Connecticut on Dec. 31 before its home Big East opener Jan. 6 against Villanova.
Greg Auman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.