Citing the April 16 campus shootings at Virginia Tech that left 32 people and their killer dead, basketball recruit Augustus Gilchrist said he is "not mentally prepared" to honor his letter of intent and will not play for the Hokies next season.
In an interview with The Washington Post, the 6-foot-9 Gilchrist said he informed Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg of his decision shortly after the killings.
"I want to send my condolences to the families and the victims. It's a terrible situation that happened," Gilchrist told The Post for a story published Monday. "I'm not mentally prepared to go there for this [coming] year. I think the campus needs time to heal. The campus needs time to mourn the first year. I don't know if I'm prepared to do that next year."
On Friday and Saturday, the university tried to strike a balance between celebration and sorrow during several campus commencement ceremonies. Individual colleges and departments handed out diplomas to students, including posthumous degrees to those killed in the attack at a dormitory and classroom building by student gunman Seung-Hui Cho, who took his own life.
A team spokesman told The Post he was unaware of Gilchrist's change of heart, but the player said "they told me they respected my decision and would like me to come this year, but they respect my decision."
Reached by phone Monday at the ACC meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., Greenberg said he had no immediate comment on Gilchrist's decision. Virginia Tech has not released Gilchrist from his letter of intent, which is binding on both the university and the player, and Gilchrist told The Post he has not requested a release.
"I'm not sure [of my plans] at this point because everything hasn't played out," Gilchrist told The Post. "My intention at first was to take a year and see how it plays out. But I don't think I want to go to Virginia Tech."
Gilchrist, of Clinton, Md., averaged 22.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 2006-07 playing for Progressive Christian while being home-schooled. According to the Roanoke Times, he was named MVP in the Capital Classic after finishing with 24 points and nine rebounds in the Capital All-Stars' 149-145 victory over the U.S. All-Stars.
Information from ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.