Julius Ashby averaged 7.5 points and 6 rebounds a game last season. The Buffs struggled when Ashby went down with a foot injury last December and early January, going 3-4 during Ashby's absence. More telling, however, was that CU lost its first three conference games without Ashby in the lineup a year ago.
The Buffs have fared well without Ashby this time around, playing to a 5-1 record heading into Saturday night's game with UC-Irvine (7 p. tipoff).
Ashby, who has not been allowed to speak with media during his suspension, is done with his final exams. The team is waiting for his professor's to post his grades.
"That may be tomorrow, it may be next week," Patton said. "As soon as his grades are posted, then our people will determine whether or not he's certified eligible."
There's an outside chance Ashby could be declared eligible by Saturday's game with UC-Irvine, but that's unlikely. Suiting up (provided he's done the needed work in the classroom) for the Dec. 20 game at TCU, or the Dec. 22 game at home vs. Mercer may be a more likely scenario. If his grades aren't posted by then, the Dec. 31 game vs. Dartmouth would be the next opportunity.
Patton allowed Ashby to practice with the team just one day per week during his suspension. On Thursday, Patton said the 6-9 player will have his work cut out for him before he sees playing time — if he's declared eligible again. There's team chemistry to think about.
"We'd like to get him game ready as quickly as we can, but you also have to be a little careful about allowing him to interrupt your rhythm," Patton said. "He still has a lot of work ahead of him on the basketball floor. We're not going to allow him, just because he's back, to just walk in and get minutes. He's got to earn it.
"He's got to fit in to get in."