TAMPA — Three days before the fall semester starts, USF's basketball team took a big hit Friday.
Junior college signee Waverly Austin, expected to start at center, is not academically eligible and will enroll elsewhere.
Austin, 6 feet 11, 270 pounds out of Fredericksburg, Va., and regarded as one of the nation's top junior college recruits, also did not qualify academically when he tried to enroll at USF in 2010.
USF didn't elaborate on the most recent failure. Butch Estes, his coach at Palm Beach State in Lake Worth, said he talked with a family member this week and said USF's "academic people" ruled he did not meet the requirements. Estes said Austin has an associate of arts degree and is a full NCAA qualifier.
"He has a lot of options," he said.
Coach Stan Heath likely will use seniors Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (6-8, 245) and Kore White (6-8, 241) at center and junior Victor Rudd (6-9, 229) more at power forward.
USF does have freshman Jordan Omogbehin — 7-3, 334 — but Heath said this week he likely will play only 8-10 minutes a game.
It's the third time in five seasons Heath has signed a frontcourt player only to see him wind up elsewhere due to academics. In 2008, forward/center Teeng Akol wound up at Oklahoma State, then Western Kentucky. Last year, junior college center Andre Jackson ended up at Cal-Bakersfield.