Eligibility of former Baltimore high school stars under scrutiny from the NCAA

Barton's graduation date, Selby's relationship with agent could put their college hoops career on hold

August 06, 2010|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

The immediate college eligibility of two former Baltimore high school basketball stars is under scrutiny by the NCAA.

Will Barton and Josh Selby, both of whom were Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year selections at Lake Clifton, are awaiting rulings from the NCAA that could affect whether they start their respective careers this season at Memphis and Kansas. The issue involving Barton has to do with when he graduated from high school, while Selby's case is focused on his relationship with a professional agent.

Barton, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard whose decision to play for the Tigers gave second-year coach Josh Pastner one of the top recruiting classes in the country, played at a prep school in New Hampshire last year after graduating from Lake Clifton in August 2009. An NCAA rule that went into effect this month says all incoming freshman athletes have to graduate in June of their senior year.

According to Pastner, Barton was denied an eligibility waiver by the NCAA and is appealing that decision. If Barton can't play this season, Pastner said, he could remain on scholarship and be eligible to play during the 2011-12 season. Barton is attending summer school at Memphis with his brother Antonio, a freshman point guard for the Tigers and former Lake Clifton standout.

"We want to make sure it's the right thing for the student-athete and for the university, but mostly for the student-athlete," Pastner said Friday by telephone from Memphis. "My approach personally is that we're going to exhaust every opportunity available to give the student-athlete the best chance to succeed on and off the floor."

Pastner could not talk about Barton's specific case because of privacy laws, but he said "it's a very complicated situation in general" and added that Barton has "other avenues" to explore.

There has been speculation that Barton could leave Memphis and spend a season playing professionally in Europe or in the NBA Development League before making himself eligible for the NBA draft next spring.

"That's not always the best thing for the long term," Pastner said. "I'm all for a young man if they're in a position to succeed and make money that can better their lives and their family's lives. If it's the right situation, I support it and will be behind it all the way. If it's a situation where it's just a quick fix and it's not a thought-out decision, I will support the kid, but I will point out that it might be shortsighted."

Pastner believes that Barton has a "strong case" based on the fact that the rule was put into effect by the NCAA a year after Barton graduated. Barton went to prep school to improve his college test scores and didn't know that graduating last August from Lake Clifton would put him in jeopardy of not being immediately eligible at Memphis.

"We're keeping a very positive attitude. Will's keeping a positive attitude," Pastner said. "The great thing about the college environment is that it gives you structure and discipline. In the summer portion, he's had a lot of good structure and discipline here. He's handled it well. He's done a really good job in the classroom and in the community. So we're keeping a positive approach, and we'll see how things shake out."

Barton could not be reached for comment, but his mother, Karen Bush, said Friday that Will is "in good spirits."

"We're working on seeing what can be done, and I know Will has worked hard to get where he's at," Bush said. "He's done everything that he was supposed to have done. It will be resolved the way it's supposed to be resolved. He will continue to do his studies, work hard, and hopefully, everything will work out the way it's supposed to. We're positive here in the Barton camp, so he's doing fine."

The situation involving Selby, a 6-3 point guard considered by many to be the top high school player in the country last season at Lake Clifton, is a little more vague -- and potentially more explosive.

According to a report on CBSSports.com, the NCAA is looking into the relationship between Selby and Robert "Bay" Frazier, the business manager for NBA star and former Towson Catholic standout Carmelo Anthony.

In a statement released by the Kansas athletic department, Jayhawks coach Bill Self said: "I have received several calls about the article. As has been mentioned previously, we do not comment on recruits until they arrive on campus for the fall semester. I will say, as we have experienced in the past in our program, it is not at all unusual for the NCAA to look into many of the country's top-rated recruits each year for any number of reasons."

Basketball players and football players at a number of schools have recently been investigated by the NCAA for improper contact with an agent.

On July 29, NCAA interim president Jim Isch released a statement on the organization's website addressing the issue.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.