Holland trying to keep program, recruits, together

Georgia assistant basketball coach <b>James Holland</b> said Wednesday there has been no discussion about releasing any signees from their letters of intent with the program.

The AAU coach of one of Georgia's most heralded signees, forward Mohamed Abukar of Rancho Bernardo High School in Escondido, Calif.,  has contacted the school's compliance office about a release for Abukar.

University of Georgia compliance director Amy Chisholm confirmed Wednesday that she had received "verbal contact'' from Abukar's AAU coach, Ollie Goulston, about the request to be released from his scholarship. Holland, however, said neither Abukar nor anyone representing the player has contacted him.

"We signed five guys in the fall, and none of the guys has been released,'' Holland said before adding "None of the five, to my knowledge, has asked for a release.''

Holland would not speculate if Georgia would grant a player's request to be released. If a player is granted a release from his scholarship, he must sit out one year after signing with another school. If a player enrolls at another school but is not released from his scholarship, he must sit out two years.

If Georgia denies a player's request to be released, the player may petition the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee in hopes of obtaining his release.

If Georgia grants a release and the player obtains a waiver from the committee, he may enroll at another school without having to sit out a season.

The letter of intent is binding even if the school changes head coaches. NCAA sanctions, however, could result in Georgia granting requests from Abukar or other players seeking to sign with another school.

Abukar, 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds, was named San Diego Area Player of the Year by the San Diego Hall of Champion after leading the area with his average of 29.0 points per game. Abukar signed with Georgia in the fall early signing period.

Holland said he has been in contact with current players and recruits while he serves as acting head coach during the suspension of Coach Jim Harrick. Georgia's other signees this year include two inside players currently attending South Plains College in Levelland, Texas: 6-foot-8 Marcus Jackson of Peoria, Ill., and 6-foot-10 Cassiano Matheus of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Joining Abukar as early signees in the fall were Corey Gibbs, a 6-foot-8 forward from Stone Mountain, and Jordan Howell, a 6-foot-3 guard from Madison, Ala.

"We're just waiting to see where the roller coaster lands,'' said Howell's mother, Wanda Howell, Wednesday.

"Coach Harrick has been nothing but a man of character and a class gentleman to us. We're heartbroken for him and the team not being able to go to the (NCAA) tournament.''

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