Junior Gnonkonde, the ex-Georgia Tech football commitment, is awaiting NCAA clearance before he can enroll at North Carolina this summer.
“There is an issue with the NCAA, we’re going through the process with them right now, and we think everything is going to be all right,” said John White, who is the Lanier County High School football coach and Gnonkonde’s legal guardian.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end was the first commitment for Georgia Tech’s 2012 recruiting class but ended up parting ways with the Yellow Jackets. Last January, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson informed White that they could not sign Gnonkonde because his test score “was too low” – which White disputed. Gnonkonde ended up signing with North Carolina over South Carolina, Syracuse, Central Florida and Louisiana Tech, among others.
What’s the deal now? Is it the test scores? “For some reason, the NCAA flags the kids from the Ivory Coast because their school system is different,” White told the AJC.
“[Gnonkonde] has been at our high school since the ninth grade. But the NCAA doesn’t want to count the last four years of high school. They want to count [part of his GPA] from the Ivory Coast, which would be middle school for us. According to the NCAA, it’s high school for them. They want to use his first four years, rather than the four years he has been in high school in the U.S. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand it at all.”
How do things stand with North Carolina? “I’m in touch with their people every day. Junior is supposed to report this Friday. As far as I know, we’re taking him there this Friday. He’s already enrolled in school, he’s already been accepted and he’s already signed up for classes. We’re planning on having him in orientation on Saturday.”
Now it’s a waiting game with the NCAA for approval.
At worst, if the NCAA clearance takes longer, the coach expects Gnonkonde to start classes later this summer.
Gnonkonde has been enrolled at White County since his freshman year, along with two other classmates from the Ivory Coast – both Lanier County basketball players – who are also waiting on the same NCAA ruling before reporting to Columbus State and West Georgia, according to White.
White said he feels confident that the NCAA will eventually grant the waivers because there’s a precedent with other Ivory Coast players in recent years. “We’re not anticipating any problems; I just think there’s a little more paperwork to get processed.”
SINCE THE WEEKEND
AND THE RECRUITING NEWS KEEPS COMING
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– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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