Iguodala cleared to play at UA

On March 2 Andre Iguodala, a 6-6 wing forward from Springfield (Lamphier), Ill., told me it might take as long as five to six weeks for the NCAA committee to rule on his request to negate of his Letter-of-Intent to play for the University of Arkansas. Iguodala had petitioned the NCAA to rescind the letter and allow him to play immediately for the University of Arizona.

It's been eleven weeks, but the family finally got the news they were waiting for today.

"I was getting a little nervous," Iguodala said. "I was wondering what was taking so long."

Actually, Andre was remaining quite calm thoughout the process. It was the rest of the family that most worried. However, when the word came yesterday that Andre had been cleared to play this season without any restrictions, a sigh of relief was felt by everyone in the family.

"That's quite a load off us," Linda Shanklin, Iguodala's mother said upon learning the good news. "We were getting concerned, but we're very patient and we just knew everything would work out in the end. But we didn't think it was going to take this long. Leonard (Shanklin, Iguodala's stepfather,) finally called the NCAA the other day and they said they mailed out the release April 17. That's a long time ago. So we asked them to FAX us a copy and sure enough it was dated April 17. We're all just so relieved."

The UA Basketball team is in Australia, so Iguodala hasn't heard from Lute Olson. But Associate Head Coach Jim Rosborough called and offered his congratulation.

"Jim left a message on my answering machine at work," she said. "He was so excited. So we sent him a copy of the release and he said he'd send it on to Lute in Australia."

It was a long arduous process, but the family never lost its faith.

"It's been an amazing experience," Linda said. "I'm just tired from it all. But it's just as amazing how supportive everyone has been. We never really had any doubt that Andre would be cleared to play."

Lute Olson made certain the family understood his personal commitment and support as the family went through the waiting game. He even made a special unscheduled trip to Springfield, Ill. in mid-April to validate that commitment.

Olson had attended a fund-raising affair in Chicago for a foundation set up for former assistant coach Ricky Birdsong who was murder in 1997. The next day, Olson drove to Springfield and spent Sunday with Andre and his family. He attended church and visited with the family all day.

"It was just the most amazing thing," Linda said. "Lute went to church with us and afterward  he talked about how he enjoyed the sermon. He's so down to earth and such a nice person. He's done so much to make us feel good about Andre going to Arizona."

Although the family was confident Andre would be cleared to play, they still made plans for a negative outcome.

"We had Plan A and Plan B," Linda said. "Plan A was if he couldn't play, Andre was going pick up his academics and get a head start on his education. He wants to graduate in three years. So he said if he couldn't play he would work that much harder in the classroom and work on his game in practice. Plan B was to take summer school classes and get a head start on his academics that way. So Andre will be starting school in mid-July."

Apparently the family was more concerned about the outcome than Andre was.

"Andre is what you might call an emotionless kid," his mother said. "I know he was worried about (getting his release) but he never showed it. We had talked about Plan A and Plan B and he said he was comfortable with either plan."

Andre will get settled on campus when he registers for the second summer session.

"I don't really know what classes I'll take," Andre said. "but I'll find out when school finishes here."

It's not likely the family will accompany when he come to Tucson. They've made plans to come to Tucson for Midnight Madness on the weekend of Oct. 15 and also plan to attend the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic in late December. And they could be making a trip to Lawrence, Kan. on Jan. 25.

Andre is busy studying Plan B.


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