Keith Dewitt fails to gain entrance to Mizzou

Luke ThompsonContributor IAugust 22, 2009

COLUMBIA, MO - FEBRUARY 14:  Head coach Mike Anderson of the Missouri Tigers reacts from the bench during the game against  the Nebraska Cornhuskers on February 14, 2009 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

After months of waiting, it’s finally become official.

In a press release that didn’t really surprise anyone who has been following the situation, it was determined that Missouri signee Keith Dewitt’s academic record wasn’t good enough for the NCAA.

The six-foot-ten forward, who could have made an immediate impact for the Tigers, was not cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center and will likely be headed to junior college. It seems that Dewitt never got a qualifying test score and also had some questionable credit from Charis Prep in North Carolina, which was put on probationary status last year by the NCAA.

Dewitt’s situation reminds me of Keith Ramsey, who spent two years at a community college in Florida because he couldn’t get the required score on his ACT. Ramsey might not have been the brightest in the classroom or in media interviews, but Anderson was able to use him as an effective weapon in the post, especially on defense.

I don’t want to get on too much of a soapbox here, but I think this is great news for Missouri basketball. The program still hasn’t completely recovered from the mess that was the Quin Snyder era, and even though Anderson does a great job handling kids like Dewitt and Ramsey, his job will always be easier without them.

After all, if a guy can’t meet the incredibly low requirements to get into a public university, how is he actually going to function as a student at that school? Of course, everyone but Myles Brand knows that most big-time college basketball and football programs make a mockery of the term “student-athlete”, but at least they have been trying to raise the standards a little lately.

Hopefully, we’ll see Keith Dewitt put some effort into his studies at a juco somewhere and become a better basketball player along the way. Then, in a couple of years, if Missouri still has a desperate need for quality post players (and make no mistake, it does this season), Anderson and his staff can offer him a scholarship.

If Dewitt really does have the talent to be a Big 12 player, then he deserves the chance to earn a spot. But first, he needs to understand that means taking care of things off the court as well.

Again, this is what the Tigers were expecting, so it really doesn’t add any weight to the shoulders of Justin Safford, Laurence Bowers and Keith Ramsey, who all showed flashes of brilliance last season. But they’ve still got plenty of work to do to come close to replacing the production of the Tigers’ two draft picks, DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons.

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