Could Indiana land Emmanuel Negedu?

April, 28, 2010
4/28/10
1:41
PM ET
Emmanuel Negedu's name may ring a bell. Negedu is the Tennessee Volunteers player who suffered sudden cardiac arrest while racing a teammate on Tennessee's indoor football practice field in November. Negedu had been lifting weights, was doing some post-workout goofing and collapsed suddenly. Negedu had to be revived by Tennessee's training staff. During his stay in the hospital, doctors implanted a pacemaker into Negedu's chest. After months of examination, Tennessee's athletics department decided Negedu could not be cleared now or ever; his career at UT was over.

It seemed safe to presume that Negedu's career as a basketball player was over, too. If Tennessee wouldn't clear their own player -- a good player at that -- who else would? Apparently, that was premature: Negedu is apparently attempting to return to college basketball at Indiana, according to GoVolsXtra:

The former Tennessee forward visited the Big Ten school last weekend and is waiting for a call back.

"I took my visit to Indiana and everything is going in a good direction,'' said Negedu, who has three years of eligibility left. "Now, I'm just waiting.'' [...] UT coach Bruce Pearl said he talked to Negedu about succeeding in other facets of life, but Negedu is intent on returning to basketball. After investigating his condition and talking to others who have experienced the same condition, Negedu remains determined to play basketball again.

If Negedu was fully healthy, this would be a big coup for Indiana and Tom Crean, who is in desperate need of talent heading into his third year in Bloomington. Negedu's AAU team was based in Bloomington, and the Hoosiers recruited him before he landed at Tennessee. Negedu was the No. 23-ranked player overall in ESPNU's class of 2008 and the No. 8-ranked power forward in the country; he would immediately give IU an injection of talent that Crean wasn't able to provide in his meager 2010 recruiting class.

Except Negedu isn't healthy. I'm not a doctor, and I didn't stay at a discount motel chain last night, and I know next to nothing about cardiac disease except that smoking cigarettes and eating red meat are bad for you. But the facts are simple: Negedu's heart stopped. It stopped during a workout. His school, Tennessee, refused to clear him to play for the program, like, ever again. Negedu says he has been cleared to play by a doctor in California, and it is possible to participate in sports with a pacemaker, but the pacemaker itself doesn't necessarily prevent heart attacks; whatever underlying issue Negedu does have (assuming he has one) could still be there, waiting to strike at any time.

Because of Negedu's condition, this makes Crean and company look more than a little desperate. Of course the 21-year-old will still want to play basketball. It's up to his advisers and coaches to prevent him from doing so if playing basketball poses a serious risk to his health. Tennessee's doctors thought it did, and they ended his career then and there. Maybe they're wrong. But does Indiana really want to risk it?

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