NCAA denies ODU's Hill request for year of eligibility

Eight minutes in a closed preseason scrimmage 21/2 years ago and questionable judgment thereafter cost Old Dominion its most experienced basketball player for next season.

NCAA officials denied a request that would have granted Donte Hill one more year of eligibility, thus ending his college career.

"My initial reaction is one of disappointment because I was hopeful to have the opportunity to coach Donte," new ODU coach Jeff Jones said. "He's a terrific young man. I'm disappointed for Donte because he was hoping he'd have one more season of competition."

Hill's absence is a blow for an ODU team that is exceptionally young and coming off a 5-25 season. The 6-foot-4 wing was a co-captain last year and perhaps the Monarchs' most versatile player, lining up everywhere from point guard to power forward.

He started 28 of 30 games and averaged a team-high 30.8 minutes per game. He was fourth in scoring (8.2 ppg) and second in assists (86).

He also would have been ODU's only senior. Presently, the Monarchs will field a team with eight freshmen and sophomores. The most experienced players will be redshirt juniors Richard Ross and Dimitri Batten.

"I absolutely think his experience and leadership would have been a positive for our young team," Jones said. "He's proven over time that he understands what's required to be a student-athlete, on the court and in the classroom. Again, I'm just disappointed for him that he's not going to be part of the team."

Hill, a Virginia Beach native, began his college career at Clemson, but transferred to ODU following the 2010 fall semester, the midpoint of his sophomore year.

The issue was a preseason scrimmage in which he played eight minutes versus Georgia prior to the 2010-11 season. In the days following the scrimmage, he informed Clemson's coaches that he wanted to transfer after the semester.

The NCAA counts participation in any contest versus another school against an athlete's eligibility clock, even if it's a scrimmage or exhibition.

Hill and ODU's coaches hoped that he would have 21/2 years of eligibility remaining. But they knew that they would have to petition the NCAA for a waiver before his senior year.

"Losing a year of eligibility over eight minutes in a scrimmage sounds bad and makes the NCAA look bad," Jones said, "but everybody knew that rule was in place, and it's been in place for a while now. It's just an unfortunate situation."

Hill's ruling was the second to go against the Monarchs since last summer. The NCAA Clearinghouse ruled that Ambrose Mosley, a freshman guard from Jacksonville, Fla., by way of Hargrave Military Academy, was ineligible after he and ODU officials were unable to produce academic documentation dating back to his sophomore year in high school in Florida.

The ruling came just days before the Monarchs left for a preseason overseas trip to Italy and Greece last August. Mosley had to remain in Norfolk and was unable to play or practice with the team last season. However, he was able to retain his scholarship, which normally isn't the case when the Clearinghouse declares a freshman ineligible.

Mosley is in good academic standing at ODU and with the NCAA, and will be part of the Monarchs' youthful roster during their first year in Conference USA.

Minus Hill, the Monarchs will have 11 scholarship players next season, two short of the maximum 13 allowed. That includes transfer Trey Freeman, who must sit out

Jones said that he and his staff are working "feverishly" to add at least one player for next season. Their emphasis is on post players. Ekene Anachebe, a 6-10, 265-pound redshirt freshman, is the only true post player on the roster. After him, the tallest players are the 6-7 Ross and 6-7 incoming freshman Denzell Taylor.

"We need frontcourt players that can contribute this year," Jones said. "I think we have a solid nucleus, but our lack of size in the frontcourt is a concern."

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