Posted: Saturday, January 14th 2006 at 6:47pm
Mays hopes to return to Clemson
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) James Mays knew he should've been out on the court against Duke with his ex-Clemson teammates instead of watching Saturday's game from the stands.
But the suspended forward says he'll return to school as soon as he can and hopes to suit up for the Tigers next season.
``In the meantime, I'm going to support my team as well as I can,'' he said at halftime of Clemson's 87-77 loss to No. 1 Duke at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Mays was the team's leading rebounder when he was declared academically ineligible for the rest of his sophomore season. Mays status was announced before Clemson faced Georgia on Dec. 28.
The loss of Mays, a 6-foot-9 forward from Garner, N.C., shook the Tigers.
Mays had started throughout Clemson's 11-0 start, the team's best opening stretch in 10 years. He was averaging 7.6 rebounds a game and had 17 blocks, still second highest on the club.
Without him, the Tigers have lost four of their past six, including an embarrassing 74-69 home loss to Elon on Dec. 30 that was the Phoenix's first Division I victory of the year.
The Tigers have adjusted to Mays' absence somewhat better this week. They broke a five-game losing streak to Wake Forest and hung in for much of the game before falling to the top-ranked Blue Devils.
Still, Mays thinks he could've made a difference in those losses. ``It has been difficult,'' he said. ``Right now, I've got to support my teammates.''
Mays refused to discuss details of his suspension, only to say he was a little bit surprised that it happened. He said it was strictly about academics and not any other transgression.
His plans have him possibly enrolling at school during the summer and rejoining the team that fall. Until then, he says he'll keep in touch with teammates and visit as much as he can so he can still feel like a Tiger.
When Mays comes back, he says he'll be a wiser person than before. ``There are always lessons you learn,'' he said.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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