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Posted at 5:51 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Timing of Billy Baron's decision to depart Virginia peculiar

By Steve Yanda

At 10:36 a.m. Thursday, the Twitter account registered to freshman guard Billy Baron tweeted a seemingly upbeat message: "Miami tomorrow!"

Virginia, fresh off a 49-47 victory Wednesday night over Clemson, will depart for Miami Friday afternoon in advance of Saturday's game against the Hurricanes, and as of Thursday morning, it appeared Baron planned to make the trip.

In a matter of hours following Baron's Thursday morning tweet, the East Greenwich, R.I. native's plans changed. By the time Virginia's practice began that afternoon, Baron had informed Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett of his plans to transfer to Rhode Island -- where his father, Jim, is the head men's basketball coach -- and was on the road headed north.

The timing of Baron's decision to depart the Virginia program came as a surprise to the Cavaliers' staff, according to a team source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The source said Virginia coaches figured that since the second semester already had begun, if Baron was going to transfer he would do so at the conclusion of the academic year.

Baron had not played in five of Virginia's past nine games and had averaged 11.1 minutes in the 17 contests he had entered this season. But if Baron had been frustrated enough in recent weeks with his lack of playing time to consider transferring out of the program, he did not voice those sentiments to the Virginia coaches, the source said.

The timing of Baron's decision is peculiar. While he plans to enroll at Rhode Island right away, Baron may have to sit out all of the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer regulations because he did not make the transition at the end of the fall 2010 semester.

Had Baron transferred prior to the start of the 2011 spring semester, he would have been eligible to play for Rhode Island following the conclusion of the 2011 fall semester. Now, Baron likely will have to seek a waiver from the NCAA if he wishes to play for his father's team next season.

Baron's last appearance as a Cavalier came during a 66-42 loss Jan. 27 to Maryland. He logged eight minutes that night, recording one turnover and missing the only shot he attempted. Baron, whose playing time diminished significantly around the time junior guard Sammy Zeglinski returned from his knee injury, shot 31.3 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from three-point range. All but 10 of his shots were from beyond the arc.

Although Baron had been used primarily as a member of the scout team during practices in recent weeks, Virginia coaches believed he had the potential to develop eventually into the vocal leader of his class as his role expanded in future seasons. Baron was one of six scholarship freshmen on the Cavaliers' roster this season.

As of Thursday afternoon, that number was down to five.

"I just didn’t see it coming, not at this point," the source said. "That was the last thing I was thinking about."

By Steve Yanda  | February 4, 2011; 5:51 AM ET
Categories:  Men's Basketball  
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Next: Jim Baron: Son's decision to leave Virginia 'happened so quickly'

Comments

Sorry to see you go Billy. I thought you had a very bright future here at UVA.

Posted by: ant9d | February 4, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

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