After 30 games this season, the NCAA has declared UNLV freshman Derrick Jones ineligible after his test score was canceled by the ACT.
Jones, a heralded recruit coming out of Philadelphia who has averaged 11.5 points while playing in every game this season, told ESPN that he took the ACT once last June, at a testing center in the Baltimore area.
Jones' attorney, Don Jackson, told ESPN that the NCAA red-flagged Jones about eight months ago and offered three possibilities: retaking the test, going to arbitration or throwing out the test score completely.
"He achieved a qualifying score," Jackson said. "UNLV was notified in July that he was red-flagged.
"We're not going to do any of the three things," Jackson added. "Because Derrick didn't do anything wrong. There's no evidence of academic fraud. They don't have anything. It's not as if his test score made a huge jump. He got the score, and it was the only time he took the test."
The NCAA Eligibility Center cleared Jones before the team's first game against Cal Poly back in November. Jackson said the center requested that the ACT look into the test scores of several athletes at the test site in Baltimore.
"These investigations have a racial motivation," Jackson said. "They go after African-Americans and international student-athletes."
An NCAA spokeswoman said she could not specifically address Jones' situation but that "an inquiry to a testing agency from the NCAA merely provides notice that the staff has identified a statistical anomaly based on student-athlete academic certification data. There are standard, publicly available points that would cause such a notice for any student-athlete."
Those "trigger" points include test-score inconsistency as measured by GPA against an ACT or SAT score or a score from one of those tests against a score from the other test.
"It is important to note that the inquiry does not ask the testing agency to investigate a particular student's test score," the spokeswoman said. "The testing agency has sole authority and discretion to initiate a formal score review."
Jones was notified earlier this week that his season, and perhaps college career, were over.
"I thought the entire thing was over," Jones told ESPN on Wednesday afternoon. "I've played all season. I was in shock. I just don't understand it.
"When my coach told me, it broke my heart. I started crying. I just don't get why they are doing this. I'm trying to figure out why."
Jones, who said he has a 3.25 GPA at UNLV, said he has never spoken to anyone from the ACT or the NCAA throughout the process. He said he called the ACT after finding out he was ineligible in an attempt to gain more clarity.
"I took two prep classes before I took the ACT," Jones said. "I took the test. It was me. I didn't cheat. I didn't do anything wrong. I just don't understand it."
UNLV (17-13, 8-9 in Mountain West) plays its regular-season finale Saturday against San Diego State, and the Runnin' Rebels will play in the Mountain West tournament next week.
UNLV and Jones will file a waiver in an attempt to get him eligible to play the rest of the season. Jones is an NBA prospect who said he hasn't thought about whether he will declare for the NBA draft.
"I don't even know," Jones said. "This is a tough time for me. I just want to play. Now I don't know what to do."