Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach James Johnson said today that freshman guard Malik Mueller is a”cademically ineligible” to play in games this season.
The NCAA ruled that Mueller, who went to high school in Germany and was already enrolled at Tech, must sit out the season due to issues with the NCAA freshman eligibility requirements, according to Tech.
“It came as a surprise to me,” Johnson said.
Mueller, who signed with Tech back in April, can practice with the Hokies this season, though. Tech said he will still have four years of eligibility, but not starting until next fall.
The NCAA informed Tech of an eligiblity problem over the summer, so Tech sought a waiver. The NCAA ruled this month that he could remain on scholarship and practice with the team but could not play in games this season.
Mueller was one of the contenders to start at point guard this year, along with Marquis Rankin and freshman Devin Wilson. Tech already lost another contender for that job when Donte Clark was not admitted to Tech over the summer.
“He was definitely a guy that was going to challenge for playing time and challenge for that starting position there, which is wide-open,” Johnson said.
Mueller also would have been a candidate at off-guard, where the remaining contenders are UNCW transfer Adam Smith and freshman Ben Emelogu. Tech might also play Rankin and Wilson together in the backcourt at times.
“He’s a combo guard. He would have been looked at at both positions,” Johnson said of Mueller.
Mueller, who has a German mother and an American father, attended a boarding school in Germany. He was the MVP of the 2010 Jordan Brand Classic international game at Madison Square Garden.
“He’s a great player. He knows the game well,” forward Jarell Eddie said of Mueller. “He has a great feel for the game. His court vision is tremendous. Not being able to play with him this season is kind of like ugh, but we’ll be all right.”
“He was going to have a big role,” Rankin said. “Losing him is really tough.”
Tech, which must replace starting point guard Erick Green and starting off-guard Robert Brown, began preseason practice today.