'Certified Eligible'

It appears Colorado senior center Julius Ashby has made the grade and is now eligible for the remainder of the Buffs' games after sitting out the first semester. Though Ashby said he had yet to see his grade from one fall class, on Wednesday afternoon head coach Ricardo Patton said Ashby was "certified eligible."

"Julius has been certified eligible," Patton said Wednesday shortly after he and the team returned to Boulder from their win over TCU in Ft. Worth. "We'll try to get him game ready just as soon as we can."

That could come as soon as Thursday, when CU hosts Mercer.

Julius Ashby had missed CU's first eight games after being declared academically ineligible for the semester due to his GPA slipping below 2.0. He took five classes during the fall semester, and earlier Wednesday afternoon, Ashby said his grades from four of those five classes had been posted. He said he had received three B's and one C. Ashby said the grade from his fifth class, a sociology class titled "Violence Against Women," had not been posted. However, Ashby said he spoke with the teacher and she told him he had done well in the course.

It appears that the grade from the fifth class is moot. After Ashby spoke to reporters, Patton said, "I had to sign some papers. When I got in (from the airport), a paper certifying his GPA, I had to sign it and send it over to the faculty/athletic rep. So it's my understanding that he got his total GPA up (over a 2.0 average necessary to be eligible)."

While Ashby might suit up for Thursday's game with Mercer, how much action the 6-foot-9 center sees is up in the air.

"I don't know how many minutes he will be capable of playing because he still has not practiced as much as (his teammates) have," Patton said. "The last thing I want to do is interrupt this team."

The Buffs are 7-1 without Ashby in the lineup, and have three home games remaining before the start of conference play. Ashby had been practicing with the team just once per week, on Patton's orders, up until earlier this month. Still, the center had only been practicing roughly twice a week over the past several weeks, according to Patton.

Ashby was the team's starting center last season and led the Buffs with 6.0 rebounds per game. He's the team's best low-post defender, as well. Though CU has done well on the boards this season — outrebounding every opponent so far — Patton said Ashby "is a guy that can get a different kind of rebound. He can get up higher."

But Patton isn't sure he wants to fix something that isn't broken. Colorado has played well using seniors Chris Copeland and Andy Osborn, along with three guards at the beginning of games. Copeland and Osborn are solid perimeter players, while Copeland can also bang some inside

Patton has made it clear to Ashby, he'll have to earn minutes.

"He's not just going to walk back in, he's got to find a way to get into the rotation," Patton said.

Ashby said he understood that, but thinks he can help the team soon with his rebounding and post defense.

"I know it's a motivational thing," Ashby said. "I'm not worried about it."

Ashby said when he first leaned he was ineligible, he thought about redshirting. But as the season came and he watched his teammates play, and when he realized he could earn back his eligibility, he wanted to play this season. Patton said he never spoke personally with Ashby about a redshirt option.

"If you have the luxury of people being patient with you, then you can (redshirt a player in Ashby's situation)," Patton said, implying the pressure to win now can override sitting a player on the bench.

A peek at Mercer
Colorado tips off with the Mercer Bears at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Coors Events Center. Mercer, located in Macon, Ga., is from the Atlantic Sun Conference and is 1-4 on the season. They are led by junior guard Jacob Skogen, who is averaging 21.3 ppg.

When the game was scheduled with Mercer, it appeared CU point guard Dominique Coleman would matchup against his twin brother, Damitrius. Damitrius Coleman led the NCAA in assists last season playing for Mercer. However, he was dismissed from the Mercer team prior to the beginning of this season.

Patton knows Mercer coach Mark Slonaker, who played at the University of Georgia. But Patton said one of the reasons he scheduled the Mercer contest was because it could help CU's recruiting presence in Georgia. "I really like playing teams from areas that we want to recruit," Patton said. "That's why we did a home-and-home series with Georgia (in years past). Georgia is a hotbed of talent. …Some games are about recruiting and establishing an identity in that area."