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Drummond is fine with his decision to become walk-on

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published December 21. 2011 4:00AM   Updated December 21. 2011 10:18AM
Sean D. Elliot/The Day
UConn's Andre Drummond dunks in a game against Harvard on December 11 at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.

Storrs — He's likely the only college basketball walk-on in the country projected to be an NBA lottery pick.

Freshman Andre Drummond is attending UConn as a non-scholarship player this season.

UConn already reached its scholarship limit when Drummond, a gifted 6-foot-10 center from Middletown, shocked the college basketball world by making a commitment in late August, a few days before the start of the first semester.

Redshirt freshman Michael Bradley volunteered to give up his scholarship to Drummond and apply for financial aid. A forward from Chattanooga, Tenn., he spent part of his troubled childhood living in the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home.

According to UConn basketball team spokesman Kyle Muncy, UConn learned later in the semester that "a recruited player can pay his own way as long as all aid received is non-institutional." Muncy added that is Drummond's case.

Drummond's family insisted on paying their own way and he became a walk-on around early November. Drummond received some financial aid.

"I'm thankful for what Mike was trying to do for me," Drummond said Tuesday. "I told Mike, 'Don't do that, man. I'll pay my way and take a scholarship next year. You don't have to give up a scholarship for me.'

"It was my decision. That's not fair to him. He worked hard to get that scholarship. I'm not going to take something from somebody that's not mine. It was my decision to come late."

Drummond earned Big East Rookie of the Week honors Monday after finishing with a career-high 24 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in Sunday's win over Holy Cross. He's averaging 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in 10 games.

"I'm happy I'm here," Drummond said. "I have no complaints at all."

Bradley recently began practicing with the team after being sidelined during the preseason with a broken ankle.

Suspension plans

Calhoun will serve his three-game suspension after Thursday's game against Fairfield. He'll miss three Big East games - Dec. 28 at South Florida, Dec. 31 vs. St. John's at home and Jan. 3 at Seton Hall.

He will not travel to South Florida. He's still trying to find out the rules of his suspension.

"I made that decision before because you've got to start off with somebody running the team and make sure they have a practice and some time down there with the kids," Calhoun said. "I'm more concerned with Fairfield right now."

According to Calhoun, the NCAA was offered a few alternatives for his punishment for violating NCAA rules but declined.

"That's unfortunate because I just don't think you should drag these things on particularly in light of a lot of things that have gone on in college athletics," Calhoun said. "It was an atmosphere of compliance, or lack thereof, that they cited us with. I'm just not so sure it does anybody any good with the penalty. But that's the penalty. We're going to go by what we're told to do."

Calhoun has yet to decide who will run the team in his absence. Associate head coach George Blaney has filled in when Calhoun missed time because of health issues. Assistant coach Glen Miller, who has head coaching experience at Connecticut College, Brown and Penn, is another option.

Notes

Assistant coaches Kevin Ollie and Miller were in Florida Tuesday on a recruiting trip. Blaney also missed practice.

g.keefe@theday.com

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