Mother's illness forces St. Amant to leave

Updated: May 28, 2005, 9:36 AM ET
Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas -- Giovanni St. Amant, a player who was part of the turnaround of the University of Texas at El Paso's basketball program over the last three seasons, will be leaving the team to be with his ill mother.

"It is with deep regret that due to my mother's illness I am leaving UTEP," St. Amant said in a written release.

St. Amant, who would have been a senior this season, set freshman records for points (407), scoring average (13.6), 20-point games (seven) and free throw percentage (82.8 percent) while the Miners struggled through a 6-24 season.

As the Miners won 51 games and made two NCAA Tournament appearances in the last two seasons, St. Amant sometimes started and sometimes came off the bench.

"This is a situation where I can't say I'm totally surprised, but I can say I'm disappointed and sad," UTEP coach Doc Sadler said at a press conference Thursday. "Gio did a lot for this program over the last three years. His mom became very, very sick last year and spent six months in the hospital."

"I visited with Gio and his mother this morning on the phone, and they confirmed it was better for him to be closer to home," Sadler said. "I don't foresee Gio coming back to UTEP -- except to visit.

St. Amant of Long Beach, Calif., leaves UTEP with 848 career points and a career free throw percentage of 79.6 percent.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press