NCAA gives Northwestern State’s Jalan West nearly unprecedented 7th year of eligibility

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Northwestern State senior guard Jalan West has been granted a nearly unprecedented seventh year of eligibility by the NCAA, according to a release from the school on Friday.

The 5-foot-11 point guard was the nation’s leader in assists at 7.7 per game after his junior season in 2014-15, but knee injuries have cost West the last two seasons.

West tore his ACL in the final minute of the 2015-16 season opener against Ole Miss as he was in the midst of 25 points and six assists to open his senior season. When the NCAA granted West a sixth year of eligibility before the 2016-17 season, West tore his same ACL that July and was forced to sit out again for all of last season.

But Northwestern State and West pushed forward, as they found three examples of the NCAA issuing a seventh year of eligibility. The Demons and head coach Mike McConathy were hopeful that West could properly finish out his college career.

The NCAA gave West the seventh year on Friday as it will be fascinating to see how he looks after a two-year absence and two major knee surgeries. West has plenty of reason to come back as well. The Demons were 19-13 without their star point guard last season, and they have NCAA tournament hopes in the Southland if West even returns a little bit to his previous form.

“I’m thankful and grateful to have another opportunity to be back out there and be part of the team,” West¬†said in the release. “Now I can accomplish everything I promised myself we would accomplish when I came here: winning a conference championship, being a great teammate, being a team leader, and getting back to the NCAA Tournament again, and winning games there. I want to lead by example, be a role model to kids, to help people. Getting back in the game gives me those opportunities and it’s a great blessing.”

West averaged 20.0 points, 7.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game as a junior in McConathy’s high-octane offense. Before tearing his ACL, NBC Sports had West as a top-100 college basketball player in the country before the 2015-16 season, as he checked in at No. 93 on that list.