NCAA BK

Smith's eligibility up in the air

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WASHINGTON (AP)

Not only is John Thompson III unsure when center Josh Smith will be eligible to play, Georgetown's basketball coach has "no idea" when a ruling will come from the NCAA.

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Smith, listed at 6-foot-10 and 350 pounds in the Hoyas' media guide, played two full seasons at UCLA, and then left that school after six games as a junior. It's not known whether he will be allowed to play at the start of this season or need to wait until the second semester.

"We're approaching it as if he may or may not be with us. It's quite as simple as that," Thompson said Tuesday. "I mean, we're going about it as something that he may be there, he may not. We have no idea when we're going to hear anything."

"It's the nature of the beast. It's the nature of the system. Would I prefer it not be this way? Probably," he added. "But at the same time, I understand it takes time."

Georgetown opens the season Nov. 8 against Oregon in Seoul, South Korea.

As for what Smith will add to his team, Thompson said: "A low-post presence, and that when he gets (the ball) down there, he knows what to do with it. He's very good on the blocks. He's a very good basketball player, which quite honestly I didn't realize until he got here last year -- just what a good feel for the game he had."

Thompson also said there is no timetable for the return of Greg Whittington; Georgetown announced in June that the 6-8 junior forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Whittington played in only 13 games last season before being suspended for academic reasons. He averaged 12.1 points and 7.0 rebounds.

Thompson said Whittington has been cleared academically but now must come back from the knee injury.

"Only God knows when Greg's going to be able to play. ... I have no idea when he will be able to get back on the court. I know that he will not step on the court one second before he's 100 percent physically and mentally ready to go through it," Thompson said. "How is his rehab going? It's going fine. Do we have a timetable? No. That's him, our medical staff and God."

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Neither Smith nor Whittington was among the players made available to reporters Tuesday during the team's media day. As other players and Thompson did interviews in Georgetown's on-campus gymnasium, Smith went through post-up drills, and Whittington took shots while wearing a black sleeve on his left knee.

"He's here every day," Thompson said about Whittington. "Everyone's at practice every day -- injured, eligible, not eligible."

Last season, led by All-American and No. 3 overall NBA draft pick Otto Porter, Georgetown climbed as high as No. 5 in the AP poll and finished with a 25-7 record. The Hoyas were a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, but lost their opening game to Florida Gulf Coast.

Georgetown finished in a three-way tie for the last Big East regular-season title under the conference's old format, and was picked by the coaches in their preseason poll to come in second behind Marquette this time around in the reconfigured league.

Tagged: Clemson, Georgetown

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