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UC basketball: Herd’s Espinosa joins Golden Eagles; King enrolls

By Jack Bogaczyk

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mark Downey hopes Marshall's loss is a big gain for his University of Charleston basketball program.

Eladio Espinosa, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound junior who was announced last week as physically unable to continue to play at Marshall, enrolled at UC on Wednesday with hopes of playing for the Golden Eagles, the second-year Charleston coach said.

Downey said the university will have to jump through some medical and NCAA hoops before that happens. Espinosa, of Norlina, N.C., had transferred to Marshall from South Florida, where in 2008-09 he averaged 1.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 31 games. He sat out the 2009-10 season.

With the Herd last season, Espinosa averaged 12.5 minutes in 10 games before suffering a serious injury.

He spent several days in an Orlando, Fla., hospital in early January after the back of then-teammate Johnny Higgins' head smacked into Espinosa's throat during a 5-on-5 drills while Marshall was practicing on the eve of a game at UCF Arena.

When Espinosa fell to the floor, he was spitting up blood and gasping for air. He lost his voice for more than a week, and he did not play again last season.

"Eladio said he's good to go; he's fine, he's been playing," Downey said. "We will get him with a doctor and get him cleared to play, but we assume we'll need to do something (an appeal) to the NCAA because he's transferred twice.

"He's a good player, one who will help us a lot. Eladio wants to play on the perimeter, and he'll play the 4 for us, but the 4 in our system is mostly a perimeter guy. He had some Division I interest again, not huge schools, but places like Gardner-Webb, Campbell, South Alabama, High Point, but he's really good friends with Noah (Fischer) and Xavier (Humphrey, former Herd walk-on transfers to UC this summer) and they talked to him a lot.

"Trying to get a waiver for a player of his caliber is worth the risk to us."

Espinosa wasn't the only intriguing basketball name joining the UC student enrollment this week. Dominic "Bo" King, the former Charleston Catholic All-Stater who played two seasons at West Virginia State after transferring from Division I Presbyterian (S.C.), is taking classes at UC.

State Coach Bryan Poore dismissed King, then a junior, from the Yellow Jacket program last spring for what the coached called a team rules violation. Downey said King is "not a member of the team," and declined further comment on the former Catholic High star.

Espinosa, when cleared, will join a UC recruiting class that also includes 6-5 senior P.J. Reyes, a former player for Lamar (Colo.) Community College and South Alabama.

Reyes left South Alabama at midseason last year after playing only 10 games (averaging 3.6 points and 8.1 minutes per game). He scored 12 points in a loss at LSU, and Downey is very high on Reyes, who was a Division I third-team junior college All-America pick at Lamar.

Downey also has brought in a 6-9, 210-pound junior college transfer in Montavious Marc, a sophomore from Jacksonville, Fla., who spent one season at Albany (Ga.) Tech. The UC coach said Marc "will provide what we need at the 5, a guy who will play hard, defend, rebound."

Two other walk-ons have joined the UC program in Markas Rayam, a 6-2 freshman guard who transferred from Fayetteville (N.C.) State, and 6-3 freshman Michael Keffer from Morgantown High.

Contact Sports Editor Jack Bogaczyk at jackb@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.


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