MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Suspended Minnesota star Joel Przybilla will not return to the team this season and plans to enter the NBA draft in June, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported today.
The newspaper said Przybilla's parents have begun meeting with prospective agents for the 7-foot center, a projected lottery pick in the draft. The paper cited two sources close to the center but did not name them.
Coach Dan Monson on Tuesday suspended Przybilla for what he characterized as the player's lack of commitment to academics. By NCAA academic standards, Przybilla would still be eligible to play.
Neither Monson nor Przybilla could be reached for comment Wednesday night, the newspaper said. At a news conference before practice Wednesday afternoon, Monson told reporters he had nothing new to report on his center. Przybilla was not at the practice.
Messages left by The Associated Press today with Monson, Pryzbilla and Marc Ryan, media relations director for the athletic department, were not immediately returned.
A deteriorating relationship between Przybilla and Monson led to the player's decision to quit the team, the sources told the newspaper. The sources said Monson did not know of Przybilla's decision, but that the player and his family planned to meet with him.
Przybilla's departure would be the latest blow for a men's basketball program trying to recover from the recent academic fraud scandal. The program is under NCAA investigation because of fraud allegations, which cost former coach Clem Haskins his job and resulted in a one-year ban on postseason play.
Przybilla considered transferring after Haskins left, but he later said he was looking forward to a fresh start under Monson, who was hired away from Gonzaga University.
Sources said Przybilla and Monson had not talked at length for two months. Signs of tension were evident in November when Przybilla took a short leave from the team for what were then characterized as ''personal reasons.''
Basketball analysts have projected that Przybilla would be a top-10 pick if he declares for the NBA draft.
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