UA basketball: Johnson off Wildcat squad

2011-12-05T00:01:00Z 2011-12-05T06:56:31Z UA basketball: Johnson off Wildcat squadBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 05, 2011 12:01 am  • 

Freshman forward Sidiki Johnson is off the Arizona Wildcats' roster for good, though the rest of his future remains unclear.

UA announced Sunday that Johnson "has left the program with the intention of transferring to another institution." But there was no comment from UA coach Sean Miller, who had suspended Johnson for the past two weeks for what the school termed "violations of team policy."

Johnson's mentor, Bernard Bowen, also did not return a text message seeking comment Sunday and his voice mail was full.

Johnson returned to UA over the Thanksgiving weekend, and Miller said he was to focus only on his academics. But Johnson left a week before fall semester finals ended and several UA officials said Sunday they were uncertain if he is leaving while eligible or not.

"I can't say much at this point until we look at all the possibilities," UA deputy AD Rocky LaRose said via text message. "We will, however, do everything we can to help him land on his feet elsewhere. And we will support a release and transfer."

If Johnson leaves while eligible, he would be granted an automatic release from UA and cost the school only one Academic Progress Rating point.

If he leaves while ineligible, Johnson would cost UA two APR points and could have difficulty becoming eligible at a new school. UA also has a policy of not automatically releasing athletes from their scholarships if they leave while ineligible; players without a release cannot be contacted by recruiters from other schools.

Student-athletes can earn a maximum of two APR points each semester, one for staying eligible and one for returning. A program must earn 90 percent of its possible APR points over a rolling four-year period to remain eligible for postseason play, and that standard is increasing to 93 percent by 2013-14.

However, UA could probably afford an "0 for 2" situation if Johnson leaves while ineligible because the Wildcats posted a 950 score (95 percent) when the last APR report was issued in May.

Johnson played just seven minutes over three games for the Wildcats and, after he did not play at all against Mississippi State on Nov. 18 at Madison Square Garden, did not did not accompany the team back from New York.

Johnson was suspended three days later and remained in New York until last weekend. Miller said then that Johnson might be dismissed and also could be reinstated, and did not allow Johnson to practice with the team or attend games.

Miller said after UA's win over NAU on Saturday that Johnson remained suspended.

Johnson was the first player to commit to Arizona in the recruiting class of 2011, as a high school junior. But he had a history of changing schools before he arrived in Tucson, having moved from Virginia's Oak Hill Academy last season to his hometown Wadleigh High School in Harlem. He also attended St. Raymond's in the Bronx and St. Benedict's in New Jersey earlier in his prep career.

Johnson's departure clears up a scholarship if the Wildcats opt to add a player for the 2012 class during the spring signing period. Arizona has only 12 scholarships allotted for 2012-13, one below the minimum because of NCAA sanctions.

The Wildcats have expressed interest in Italian guard Amedeo Della Valle of Nevada's Findlay Prep. Miller also went to see Cochise College forward Matt Korcheck last week.

Korcheck originally signed with Texas-El Paso out of Sabino High School. While Cochise coach Jerry Carrillo said Korcheck has made significant improvement at the junior college, he said Korcheck would probably need a redshirt year before spending his final two seasons of eligibility in Division I.

"If a school is willing to put in three years into him, and redshirt him," Carrillo said, "they'd have a nice player."

Up next

• What: Arizona at Florida

• When: 5 p.m. Wednesday

• TV; radio: ESPN; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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