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Wednesday, Aug. 18

Echols quits Redbird basketball team     Send a link to a friend

[AUG. 18, 2004]  NORMAL -- In a surprise announcement, Illinois State senior forward Najeeb Echols informed head coach Porter Moser that he is waiving his final season of eligibility to pursue a career in professional basketball in Europe.

Echols, who cited financial reasons for his sudden decision, is leaving his second college in three years.

"This is very poor timing on Najeeb's decision for our basketball team and Illinois State," Moser said. "To tell us in March about his decision is one thing, but to tell us in July is another. We worked him out all spring, and he worked with our strength and conditioning coach all spring and summer. He worked my camp, and we also got him summer aid for school. Then, in mid-July he tells his coaches and teammates that he's leaving, without giving us time to replace him."

For the past month, Moser and his staff worked with Echols on his decision.

"He's dealing with a number of issues right now and we tried to lay out a plan to help him sort things out, but over the last two weeks he has broken all the lines of communication with us to pursue his professional career," Moser said.

 

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Echols, who became eligible for Illinois State on Dec. 13, 2003, at Illinois-Chicago, was on pace to graduate in the summer of 2005.

"The saddest part about the whole decision is that we have worked so closely with Najeeb on his degree plan," Moser said. "He was on track to graduate during the next year's summer session, but percentages show when student-athletes leave school with more than a year left, they rarely come back and finish."

Echols played in 24 games last season, with seven starting assignments. He averaged 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in his first season at Illinois State after transferring from Missouri.

[Todd Kober,
assistant athletics director, media relations,
Illinois State University]

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