NCAA reinstates Redhawks' Hill for next season

Friday, July 25, 2008

Southeast Missouri State basketball player Johnny Hill has been reinstated to play for the 2008-09 season, without penalty from the NCAA.

Hill, who will be a junior, was suspended for the final three games of the 2007-08 season because of an NCAA investigation into events that took place when he attended Vashon High School in St. Louis.

"This is great news for Johnny and for our basketball team," Southeast coach Scott Edgar said in a release. "He is a hard worker who has gained valuable playing experience over the past two seasons.

"This has been a very challenging time for Johnny, and I know he is anxious to return to our team. We appreciate the favorable ruling from the NCAA."

Hill, a 6-foot-4 guard/forward, has seen limited action during his first two seasons at Southeast, averaging 2.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in a reserve role. In 24 games as a sophomore, Hill averaged 1.7 points and 2.1 rebounds.

Hill was part of Vashon's state title teams in 2004 and 2006. He was at the center of several of Vashon's recruiting violations that were part of the reason the Missouri State High School Activities Association last month stripped the Wolverines of three state championships, including the two when Hill played.

Former Vashon coach Floyd Irons admitted spending more than $25,000 to rent an apartment for Hill and his brother Bobby, who were from Illinois. Bobby will be entering his junior season at Illinois State.

Women's recruit ineligible

Victoria Smith was a big reason the 2008-09 Southeast women's basketball recruiting class was ranked 53rd nationally by one recruiting service.

But Southeast coach John Ishee knew when he signed Smith that she was marginal academically, which might have scared off bigger programs.

Ishee said Thursday that Smith, a forward who played the past two seasons at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, has indeed failed to qualify academically and won't attend Southeast this year.

Smith was ranked as the nation's No. 8 junior college small forward by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report based out of Tampa, Fla. That recruiting service ranked Southeast's class tops in the Ohio Valley Conference and No. 53 nationally.

"We knew when we signed her it was probably a 50-50 deal [on her being eligible]," Ishee said.

Ishee said there is still a chance Smith will play for Southeast, but that wouldn't be before the 2009-10 season.

"The last she told us her plan was to try and graduate [from TRCC] and come here next year," Ishee said.

Even without Smith, Ishee rates Southeast's five signees highly.

"We've still got some good kids coming in," Ishee said. "I'm very pleased with what we've got."

Gymnasts add assistant

The Southeast gymnastics program has added an assistant coach to its staff.

Head coach Tom Farden recently named Jimmy Wickham one of the Redhawks' two assistants.

Wickham was a four-time All-American at Ohio State, on vault in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and on floor in 2008. He is only the second Ohio State gymnast to be a three-time All-American on vault.

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