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Published: Friday, 4/20/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Addition of transfer eases sting to Rockets

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Justin Drummond Justin Drummond
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Amid the bad news came a little bit of good.

At about the time University of Toledo officials were preparing to announce a postseason basketball ban Wednesday, coach Tod Kowalczyk added a talented player to his roster in Loyola (Md.) transfer Justin Drummond.

The sixth man of the year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Drummond, a 6-foot-4 wing, will sit out next year and be eligible at the beginning of the 2013-14 season. He will have two years remaining.

"I see this program rising," he said. "I can come in and help the program rise and get to the NCAA tournament."

It was 1980, 32 years ago, when UT last participated in the premier postseason tournament.

That drought will grow to 33 years next year after the NCAA denied its appeal of a postseason ban as punishment for unsatisfactory Academic Progress Rate scores. Exclusion from the Mid-American Conference tournament is lumped into the punishment. Additionally, UT will play three fewer games next season and practice four hours less each week -- a reduction from 20 hours to 16.

The addition of Drummond mitigated the sting felt from the embarrassing news.

When he becomes eligible, he'll join a core group of current players consisting of guards Rian Pearson and Julius Brown and forwards Matt Smith and Reese Holliday that theoretically should contend for a MAC title and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

As an added bonus, Drummond will give the Rockets an experienced scoring guard to replace seniors-to-be Curtis Dennis and Dominique Buckley.

In electing to transfer, Drummond, a native of Washington D.C. area, said he wanted to maximize his talents. Apparently he didn't think he could do that at Loyola, where he averaged 10.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in 22.7 minutes on a team that captured the MAAC tournament title and advanced to the NCAA tournament.

He was named third team all-league one year after landing on the all freshman team and averaging 9.8 points.

Drummond visited UT last weekend -- attending the football team's spring game with his would-be teammates -- and originally planned to visit other schools.

UT's coaches informed him of the impending postseason ban, which had no bearing on his decision to transfer. He can't play next season anyway.

"I felt comfortable being there," he said. "I've been through recruiting once before and I can tell what's good and what's bad. I felt this is the place I should be."

Drummond will finish classes at Loyola in the middle of May, and relocate to UT at the end of June.

The son of a U.S. Air Force colonel, he intends to major in criminal justice.

Drummond joins a recruiting class that includes early signee Nathan Boothe, a center from suburban Chicago, and recent pickups, guard Josh Lemons and power forward Aubrey Williams.

The NCAA returned the three scholarships it revoked last spring for poor APR scores. A postseason ban, under a rule instituted in October, replaces scholarship reduction as the initial punishment.

Kowalczyk has one scholarship available, to allocate now or to bank and use on a prodigious 2013 recruiting class from the Toledo area.

"I'm not going to use it unless I think there's a [potential] all-league transfer out there," Kowalczyk said. "If that doesn't happen relatively soon, I'll give it to [walk-on] Richard Wonnell for the year."

NEW COACH: UT women's coach Tricia Cullop has hired former long-time professional player Vicki Hall to her staff.

Hall spent the past season as an assistant at New Mexico after coaching two seasons at Miami. She and Cullop were AAU teammates.

Hall's 16-year professional career includes stops in Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, and Israel, as well as time with Colorado and Nashville of the ABL and with Cleveland of the WNBA.

She was a member of several United States national teams and helped the Americans win the world championship in 1990.

Hall was a four-year letterwinner at University of Texas and was named to the Southwest Conference All-Decade team for the 1990s. She was the Naismith and Gatorade player of the year in high school.

Hall replaces Todd Mitmesser, who is moving to New York where his wife recently accepted a job.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @RyanAutullo.



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