Washington Cleared

University of Arkansas basketball freshman forward Michael Washington (6-10, 235) finally gets clearance from the NCAA and just needs SEC approval now to take the practice floor with the Razorbacks.

Michael Washington is one step closer to eligibility but not yet in the clear.

The University of Arkansas freshman received word Thursday that the NCAA Clearinghouse had declared him a qualifier for the upcoming basketball season.

But nothing is final. Not yet.

According to Southeastern Conference by-laws, conference compliance officials must conduct a mandatory review of Washington's eligibility before coach Stan Heath can breathe easy about his fate.

University officials are hoping to hear from the SEC by Oct. 13, the first day of Arkansas' practice schedule.

"Obviously there is a lot of excitement because this part of the process has been completed," Heath said in a statement. "We're happy for Michael because one hurdle has been cleared. Now, we'll anxiously wait for the outcome of the SEC's review."

Washington has been attending classes but has not been allowed to participate in any team-related workouts.

The 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward with outside shooting touch is expected to contribute immediately.

That's why Arkansas has nervously awaited the NCAA's decision about Washington, who shunned North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Oklahoma and Baylor for the Razorbacks.

Washington's case was similar to that of other players who graduated from prep schools that were investigated by the NCAA as being "diploma mills" — or schools that awarded its student-athletes with official graduation despite not offering a complete curriculum.

In June, the NCAA approved the prep school Washington attended last year — Genesis Prep One in Mendenhall, Miss. — but some of Washington's course work still drew suspicions. Now that The Clearinghouse has cleared Washington, who attended two other schools before Genesis One, the SEC must do the same.

If the SEC follows suit, Arkansas will be adding an athletic talent with the ability to score in the pain, as well as from outside. He averaged 31.6 points, 14.8 rebounds and 9.0 blocked shots his senior season at Genesis One.


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