Balkman accepted to South Carolina

Updated: October 23, 2003, 2:13 PM ET
ESPN

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Highly touted recruit Renaldo Balkman has been accepted to South Carolina and the school said he is expected to begin practicing with the team Thursday.

The status of the 6-foot-7 freshman forward had been in limbo since last spring, but the school said it was informed Wednesday the NCAA approved his appeal.

It is welcome news for South Carolina, which finished 12-16 last season after reaching the NIT finals in 2002. The Gamecocks begin the season Nov. 17 against Gardner Webb in the Guardians Classic.

"South Carolina was the only place I wanted to be. I was determined to see this through and it has been worth the effort," said Balkman, who began half-semester classes Wednesday.

With Balkman's acceptance, South Carolina's roster becomes a little clearer. Last week, South Carolina coach Dave Odom was uncertain when Balkman and senior Rolando Howell, who pleaded no contest to domestic violence Oct. 9, would be joining the team. Howell was allowed to practice with the team during Midnight Madness late last week, but was suspended for the first 10 regular season games.

"I am so happy and relieved that Renaldo Balkman has earned his eligibility," Odom said. "He has overcome so much and now he has an opportunity to truly make something of himself as well as making a significant contribution to the team."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index