CORAL GABLES, Fla. – University of Miami men’s basketball newcomer Ivan Cruz Uceda will be ineligible for 50 percent of Miami’s games in the 2014-15 season, Coach Jim Larrañaga announced Wednesday. He is ineligible due to an NCAA rule that requires a student-athlete to enroll in college one year after high school graduation.
"We feel very bad for Ivan,” said Larrañaga. “Sitting out half of the season is very tough on him and us. Ivan is working very hard to prepare himself for when he does become eligible. He is an excellent rebounder and skilled big man. It is unfortunate that he is being impacted in such a way. We will miss him greatly during the first half of the year."
Cruz Uceda will be able to practice with the team, but will not be available to play until the game against Duke on Jan. 13 in Durham, N.C.
The native of Madrid was an All-American (H.M.) at Harcum College, where he averaged 14.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks in 23.3 minutes per game in his second season. He was named to the All-National Tournament Team as he led his team to the NJCAA Division I National Semifinals. Cruz Uceda set school records for rebounds in a game (29) and career (635), and left the school as the fourth-highest scorer in Harcum history with 957 points, and was sixth in blocked shots (76).
Miami opens the 2014-15 season Nov. 6 in Coral Gables with an exhibition against Eckerd College, then the season lid lifter will be Nov. 14 against Howard. The Canes will start the season with nine scholarship players available, seven of which are newcomers to the team.
Our take: This is the worst possible news for the front court depleted Hurricanes. The only good side to this is that Uceda will be back in time to provide a spark as the 'Canes presumably push for a post season berth. By the time he returns, Miami will have only played its first 2 of 18 ACC games. Hopefully they can survive a reasonably tough out of conference slate featuring games with Florida and Providence with out the talented big man.
Once again the wizardry of Coach L and staff will be put to the test.