Georgetown center Josh Smith, who left UCLA midway through the 2012-13 college basketball season, has been granted immediate eligibility and a two-year waiver to play with the Hoyas, the school announced on Wednesday.
Although Smith played parts of three seasons with the Bruins, he was granted a Seasons of Competition waiver and will be treated essentially as a redshirt junior.
The school had applied for the special waiver on behalf of Smith, who left UCLA after six games last season. He then transferred to Georgetown in January, sitting out the second semester but attending classes and practicing with the team.
The NCAA typically forces players to sit out an entire year when transferring. Under typical circumstances, Smith would have been eligible to play for the Hoyas once the second semester began.
“We are excited that the NCAA has approved the waiver for Joshua,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “Now, he has to maintain a high level of commitment on and off the court. He will provide a significant low-post presence for this team.”
One of the nation's most highly touted and sought-after recruits in the Class of 2010, Smith's career in Westwood didn't go as planned. He averaged 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds as a freshman, earning All-Freshman honors in the Pac-10, but weight and maturity issues quickly caused a rift between he and then-coach Ben Howland.
The 6'10" big man, who is listed at 350 pounds, saw his minutes drop to just 17.2 per game when he came to camp out of shape as a sophomore. By the time he left UCLA, Howland was playing him only sparingly and Smith chose to leave rather than finish out the 2012-13 campaign. The Bruins would finish a disappointing 25-10, and Howland would be fired after the season.
In Thompson, it seems Smith has found a coach who believes his career can be revived. All signs point to the 21-year-old starting at center and junior Mikael Hopkins moving to the bench. Thompson told the Associated Press, via SI.com, he expects the bruising Smith to provide an offensive low-post presence, and that he came into camp in good shape.
Georgetown comes into the 2013-14 season unranked in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. The Hoyas have made the NCAA tournament in each of the past four seasons, but lost key contributors like Otto Porter Jr. from last year's squad.
They open their season against Oregon in the Armed Forces Classic in South Korea on Nov. 8.
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