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Louisville awaits eligibility news on one of its newcomers

Aug 23, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

pitino AP

With Luke Hancock and Russ Smith out of eligibility, the Louisville Cardinals have some key contributions to account for in their debut season as a member of the ACC. The return of guards Chris Jones and Terry Rozier and forward Montrezl Harrell will certainly help matter for head coach, as will the arrival of one of the nation’s best recruiting classes.

Pitino and his staff have reeled in six players, with guard Quentin Snider, small forward Shaqquan Aaron and center Chinanu Onuaku among that group. Another newcomer is 6-foot-9 forward Jaylen Johnson, a four-star prospect who some pundits believe is capable of cracking the rotation as a freshman. However there’s an issue: Johnson has yet to be cleared academically by the NCAA Eligibility Center, which has prevented him from enrolling with Monday’s deadline right around the corner.

According to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, one issue for Johnson is that the high school he attended was consolidated with a neighboring school district and that has made the task of evaluating his academic credentials more difficult for the eligibility center.

Johnson graduated from Ypsilanti High School, which was part of a consolidation with a neighboring school district’s high school. That transition led to a paperwork “mess,” a source familiar with Johnson’s situation said.

Eligibility officers are having trouble sifting through Johnson’s coursework and figuring out if it meets the NCAA’s core academic credit requirements, the source added.

Louisville’s front court newcomers are of great importance entering 2014-15, as beyond Harrell the Cardinals don’t have any other proven (at the college level) commodities at this time. Mangok Mathiang made strides as a freshman, starting 14 games and averaging 3.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest, and he’ll be asked to do even more in 2014-15. The Cardinals also have Akoy Agau, who played sparingly as a freshman and is still recovering from offseason sports hernia surgery.

With that being the case the freshmen will have opportunities to compete for playing time, and with that being the case this academic uncertainty is doing Johnson no favors at all.