NCAA grants Nevada’s starting center extra season of eligibility

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When center A.J. West joined the Nevada program last season, playing his first game against Iona on December 22, he was originally declared to be a junior eligibility-wise. With that being the case, and West’s late start to the season, it was expected that the Wolf Pack would have their 6-foot-9 center for just three semesters.

However the ruling regarding West’s status was changed Tuesday, with the NCAA granting the Monroe (New York) College product an extra season of eligibility. As a result West will be a junior this season as opposed to a senior, which would have been the case if not for the ruling.

“We are excited to have AJ for two more seasons,” Nevada head coach David Carter said in a release from the school. “I would like to thank our compliance department for their efforts in this process and express my appreciation for the NCAA and its appeals process for granting him the additional season to play for the Pack.”

West averaged 6.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per contest in the 21 games he played last season (19 starts), and he’ll be an important figure for the Wolf Pack in 2014-15 as well. Nevada, which finished the 2013-14 season with a 15-17 record (10-8 Mountain West), has to account for the loss of two senior starters in guard Deonte Burton and guard/forward Jerry Evans Jr. and they lost forward Cole Huff as well.

Huff, who averaged 12.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest last season, transferred to Creighton.

As a result of those departures senior guard Michael Lopez (11.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg) and West are the Wolf Pack’s top leading returning scorers, with sophomore Marqueze Coleman (6.0 ppg) expected to figure more prominently in the attack. West will be joined in the front court by two returnees (forward/center Ronnie Stevens Jr. and forward/center Lucas Stirvins) and three newcomers: Sheridan College transfer Kaileb Rodriguez (sophomore) and freshmen Elijah Foster and Robyn Missa.