The season is less than two months away, and the University of Miami men’s basketball team was dealt another dose of bad news.
Ivan Cruz Uceda, a native of Spain and junior college transfer, will be ineligible for the first half of the season, Coach Jim Larrañaga announced Wednesday. His suspension, coupled with the loss of sophomore guard Davon Reed for four to six months following leg surgery, leaves the Canes with just nine scholarship players to start the season. Seven of them are newcomers to the roster.
Cruz Uceda is suspended due to an obscure NCAA rule that requires a student-athlete to enroll in college one year after high school graduation. Uceda turns 23 on Oct.24, and played at Harcum (Pa.) College before signing with the Hurricanes.
“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, North Carolina. At 6-10 and 240 pounds, he was expected to be a key rebounder for the Canes and showed great promise during the team’s exhibition tour in Spain, averaging 11 rebounds per game.
At Harcum College, he averaged 14.6 points, 9.6 rebounds last season. He was named to the All-National Tournament Team as he led his team to the NJCAA DivisionI 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.
Miami opens the 2014-15 season on Nov.6 with a home exhibition against Eckerd College. The regular season opens Nov.14 against Howard.