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Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Jim Baron: Son's decision to leave Virginia 'happened so quickly'

By Steve Yanda

Former Virginia freshman guard Billy Baron has returned to his native Rhode Island and spent Friday enrolling at URI, where his father is the men's basketball coach. Baron's decision to leave the Cavaliers came just a few days before an important date on the Rhode Island academic calendar, which could affect whether he will be eligible to play at all for the Rams next season.

"He wants to play so bad, and he saw what his brother did for me, playing for me," said Jim Baron, Billy's father and Rhode Island's coach. "He just wants to play. And without making it a real soap opera, Billy's a little bit different than Jimmy was. He's a real home body type of kid and he just wanted to come back. He wanted to play for me. And that's it."

Jimmy Baron, Billy's older brother, played at Rhode Island from 2005-08 and finished his collegiate career as the Atlantic 10's leader in three-pointers made. As a freshman, Jimmy Baron -- who is now playing professional basketball in Spain -- was named to the A-10's all-rookie team.

Billy Baron averaged 11.1 minutes per game in 17 of Virginia's 22 contests this season. He did not play in five of the Cavaliers' past nine games. While other factors contributed to Baron's decision to transfer to URI -- such as the desire to play for his father, as well as to be closer to home -- his lack of playing time during his freshman season at Virginia played a significant role.

On Monday, Rhode Island announced that reserve point guard Daniel West had withdrawn from the school, leaving the Rams with one point guard on their roster. Meantime, Baron was stuck in a logjam at the point guard position behind sophomore guard Jontel Evans and junior guard Sammy Zeglinski, both of whom will return to the team next season.

The question for Baron now is whether he'll be eligible to play at all for the Rams next season. According to NCAA rules, players who transfer from one Division I program to another must sit out "one full academic year (two full semesters or three full quarters)" at his new school.

Classes for the spring 2011 semester at Rhode Island began Jan. 24, but Sunday is the final day students can add or drop courses. So, assuming Baron enrolls, is accepted and gets his classes arranged by the end of the day Sunday, it's possible he could be viewed by the NCAA as having fulfilled his "two full semesters" requirement at the conclusion of the fall 2012 semester, meaning he would be able to play for the Rams beginning sometime next December.

"Yeah, that had something to do with it, too," Jim Baron said. "Just to try to -- you know what I mean? And it's always tough timing with a scenario like that. Like I said, as a father to a son, it's just a -- I have a tough time denying that, you know?"

When Rhode Island played at Richmond on Jan. 13, Billy Baron was in attendance. But when asked whether Billy had discussed the possibility of transferring out of Virginia with him in recent weeks, Jim Baron said: "No, no, no, no, not at all."

"It's always challenging when you have a child and all of the sudden he's -- he's been with me in camps; I've been with him in all of his experiences in high school and prep school," Jim Baron said. "It's a tough scenario, but like I said, as a father, when your son calls you and says, 'I want to come back and I want to play for you, dad.' You know what I mean?"

And when did Billy make that call?

"It happened so quickly," Jim Baron said. "I don't know. It happened so quickly."

By Steve Yanda  | February 4, 2011; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Men's Basketball  
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Comments

Sorry to see him go, but I completely understand why he did it. Best of luck to him.

Posted by: freakzilla | February 5, 2011 2:14 AM | Report abuse

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