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NCAA reconsiders ruling, clears Beverly

Beverly cleared to play by the NCAA

N.C. State’s Braxton Beverly (10) shoots as Bryant’s Ikenna Ndugba (0) guards him during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

By Aaron Beard

AP Basketball Writer

RALEIGH (AP) — North Carolina State’s Braxton Beverly didn’t have to sit out this season for attending class after all.

The NCAA cleared Beverly to play immediately Tuesday after reconsidering an ineligibility ruling tied to summer courses the freshman took at Ohio State. The NCAA announced its decision less than two hours before the Wolfpack hosted Bryant.

“I was very excited,” Beverly said after scoring two points during the 95-72 win. “The first two games, I was seeing signs and posters, everybody yelling ‘Free Braxton!’ Finally I’m free. It was a great feeling. To have that support, it’s amazing.”

Beverly took two courses at Ohio State before a surprise late coaching change led him to seek his release. That triggered the designation as an undergraduate transfer instead of an incoming freshman, requiring him to sit this season before having four years of eligibility starting in 2018-19.

In a statement, Beverly’s attorney, Scott Tompsett, said Beverly is “absolutely thrilled” by the ruling and thanked the NCAA for reconsidering its initial stance that was upheld on an appeal before Tuesday’s reversal.

“Braxton also appreciates the public support he’s received from so many people across the country and the media outlets that have reported on his case,” Tompsett said. “Braxton is ready to compete for the N.C. State Wolfpack!”

The 6-foot guard from Hazard, Kentucky, is considered a three-star prospect who will provide 3-point shooting and depth with first-year coach Kevin Keatts installing an up-tempo scheme and pressure defense this season.

Beverly made 1 of 7 shots and missed all three of his 3-point tries in 16 minutes Tuesday.

“I put him in a tough spot,” Keatts said. “I could have waited and probably played him on Thursday, but I was so excited. I wanted to see him out there.”

Beverly talked at the team’s preseason media day in September about the situation, saying he had been in summer school for a few weeks at Ohio State to take a “rural sociology” class as well as online science course for “lifespan and human development.” But the school suddenly fired coach Thad Matta on June 5 and later hired Butler’s Chris Holtmann, leading Beverly to obtain his release and sign with the Wolfpack in July.

N.C. State announced Oct. 13 that its initial request for Beverly’s eligibility was denied, and it appealed that decision 10 days later. The school said the NCAA denied that appeal Oct. 30 — Beverly was allowed to practice — then recently submitted a request for the NCAA to reconsider its position yet again.

It worked this time. The NCAA said it had granted Beverly a transfer waiver based on “additional information,” though NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn declined to comment Tuesday beyond the statement.

N.C. State athletics spokesman Fred Demarest recently said Matta and Ohio State supported Beverly’s efforts to play right away.

“We are grateful that the NCAA agreed to reconsider Braxton’s appeal and reversed the original decision, resulting in Braxton’s immediate eligibility,” Wolfpack athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement. “It was the right choice for a young man caught in a difficult situation not of his own making.”

___

Freelance writer Nolan Hayes in Raleigh contributed to this report.

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