Arizona's McClellan academically ineligible

Updated: October 11, 2005, 9:57 PM ET
Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Sophomore guard Jawann McClellan is academically ineligible to play for Arizona until at least mid-December.

McClellan and coach Lute Olson revealed his status at the team's media day on Tuesday. McClellan was a major contributor off the bench for last season's 30-7 team and had expected to contend for a starting spot.

He was attending summer school but dropped out to be with his family in the Houston area following his father's fatal heart attack on June 12. McClellan re-enrolled but withdrew again. Arizona's appeal to the NCAA was denied.

"I was surprised by the decision," McClellan said. "I came back this summer to try to make up one hour that I needed. I really just couldn't concentrate."

If he meets eligibility requirements during the fall semester, McClellan can rejoin the team after missing the first seven games. That would make him eligible for the team's Dec. 17 contest at Utah.

"I know my dad is probably disappointed I am ineligible just because of the simple fact that I didn't handle my business this summer," McClellan said. "It was too hard to sit there and focus."

The 6-foot-4 McClellan averaged 5.8 points and three rebounds as a freshman last season. In the Wildcats' seven postseason games, he averaged 8.9 points and four rebounds.

McClellan said he had thought about transferring to Texas to be closer to his family and friends, but after meeting with Olson decided to come back to the Wildcats.

"When he heard about the situation he told me I didn't have to come back and play. He just wanted me to get healthy," McClellan said. "He said if I wanted to transfer they would grant the transfer. He was there for me. When you have a person who wants you to get well and not worry about the basketball end of it, and cares about you, it helps."

His absence will allow others more time on the court, including senior Chris Rogers, sophomore Jesus Verdejo and freshmen J.P. Prince and Marcus Williams. Rogers is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a knee injury. He had been expected to miss the first month of the season, but Olson said he could be back in the next few days. With McClellan out, there will be more opportunities for Wildcats will

"Jawann has really handled the situation well," Olson said. "The big thing is it will give some other guys opportunities to get minutes. In the long run it may make our team stronger."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press