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Bad economy brings back Villanova walk-on

9/10/2010

Villanova walk-on forward Russell Wooten had the ultimate fallback plan after graduation: Villanova basketball.

The school announced Friday that Wooten would return to the team after having participated in commencement ceremonies and Senior Night last season. The Wildcats could use the depth on their roster after forward Taylor King transferred and highly regarded freshman James Bell underwent surgery for stress fractures on both legs.

But using his remaining eligibility wasn't Wooten's original plan. Unable to find a job in his native Southern California, he's doing what scores of other college grads are doing in order to wait out a bad economy -- going to graduate school.

Only while Wooten pursues a master's degree in business administration, he'll get to play basketball as well.

From the team's website:

He spent much of June regaining his bearings while plotting his next career step. There were several job interviews, including one in sales, but nothing materialized in this difficult economic environment.

Wooten stayed away from basketball too. It was, he reasoned, time for something else. Little did he realize that he would be transported back to his home away from home at Villanova.

"I have heard from a lot of people that a graduate school degree can only help you in the real world," he notes. "Since this opportunity has presented itself, I feel like it's a natural step to where I would like to go with my career."

Wooten appeared in only 22 games for Villanova over the past two seasons, spending 2007-08 as a practice player who didn't dress.

Now he's back again, with the term "student-athlete" fitting him quite well and the team praising his enthusiasm and energy.

"Russell is a dedicated young man who has been an asset to this program," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement.