07/15/2008 9:27 PM ET
Caracter returning to Louisville
By Adam Zagoria / SNY.tv
Rick Pitino and Derrick Caracter repeatedly clashed over the player's weight and lack of discipline. (AP)

Rick Pitino has offered Derrick Caracter an opportunity to return to the Louisville basketball team for the 2009-10 season, and Caracter has accepted.

"Derrick has come to me repeatedly in the last two months asking to return to our team," Pitino said in a statement that came as a response to a story broken by ZAGSBLOG.NET.

"I have encouraged him to choose a different path over and over. He came to me one more time and asked for any option available to get back on the team. I have given him the same option I gave Scott Padgett when he played for me at Kentucky. If Derrick is willing to grow up in the game of life and we can help him realize his potential, then we are there to help him. But that's a big if. He will not be a part of our team next year. He will have to measure up in three areas - as a student, as a person and as a basketball player - before I will entertain the possibility of him returning to our team for the 2009-10 season. We expect him to get a job, pay for school on his own, get in shape and abide by the other steps I have reviewed with him. If he measures up, then he can earn his way back. But that remains to be seen."

Caracter, who averaged 8.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 35 games for Louisville during his sophomore season, was not immediately available for comment. Stacy Brooks, a professor in the Pan-African Studies Department at Louisville who has become an adviser to the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Caracter, said Caracter was looking forward to returning to the program in 2009.

"Coach 'P' called Derrick and he said that the best he could do for him was to (have Derrick) take this year off and come back next year (2009-10) and be on the team," Brooks said Tuesday by phone. "Derrick accepted it."

Brooks said Caracter, a native of Fanwood, N.J. who has spent two years at Louisville, planned to remain at Louisville for the 2008-09 school year and also find a job. "He would pull his GPA up and try to keep his nose clean," Brooks said.

Pitino and Caracter have repeatedly clashed over the player's weight and lack of discipline, and Pitino told reporters after last season that Caracter was transferring. "He just has too many issues to overcome, academically and otherwise, to be a Louisville Cardinal," Pitino told The Louisville Courier-Journal in May. "The best thing for him would be to go to a different place."

Caracter had an opportunity to attend the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp, but skipped it because he did not want to jump to the NBA, Brooks said.

"I was hoping he would try the pros," Pitino told the Courier-Journal. "That's all he talked about all year. I told him to go to Orlando. I don't know why he wouldn't go there. It's crazy."

Still, both Caracter and his mother, Winnie Terry, are on record saying he wanted to return to Louisville.

"He loves Louisville," Terry told the Courier-Journal. "That's where he wants to be. He doesn't feel like he's ready (for the NBA). He definitely wants to return." Brooks said Caracter took incompletes in several classes this past spring and has to make up those credits this summer. Those classes would not be for additional credit, but to make up the incompletes.

"Once that (academic) hold is lifted, he's going to take four more credit hours this summer," Brooks said.

Brooks added that it was still possible Caracter could decide to declare for the NBA Draft in 2009.

"He could," Brooks said. "That option would be available to him."

Adam Zagoria is a regular contributor to SNY.tv. Read his blog at ZagsBlog.net.
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