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UConn expects to post perfect APR for hoops

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's men's basketball team, which was forced to sit out of last year's postseason because it failed to meet NCAA academic requirements in years past, has submitted a perfect academic progress rate for last season.

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The score, which covers the 2012-13 school year, won't be official until the NCAA comes out with its annual academic progress report in May. But coach Kevin Ollie said Friday that it's not expected to change.

``We got a thousand,'' said Ollie, referring to the numerical perfect score UConn expects to receive. ``If you want to wait until May, you can find out in May. But it's a thousand.''

UConn went 20-10 on the court during the 2012-13 basketball season and likely would have been an NCAA tournament team. But it was barred from both the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament based on the APR scores from the 2007-08 through 2010-11 academic years.

``The reason why we didn't play in the tournament wasn't because of the guys here, it was the guys before us,'' senior guard Shabazz Napier said. ``We cherish our academics. That is one thing Coach Ollie always tells guys, the one thing people can't take away from you is your education.

``We don't take it for granted.''

Over the past several years, the program put in changes in an effort to boost the scores. Those include mandated sanctions for any player who misses three or more classes during the academic year and daily checks of course work for student-athletes who have a grade-point average of 2.3 or lower.

Players also are required to attend at least nine hours of summer school each year and adhere to a ``graduation plan'' created to ensure each player is on a path to graduate, even if they leave school early for the NBA or other opportunities.

``We learned from our mistakes and we are going forward,'' Ollie said. ``That's what you do as any institution. You get better as time goes and you find out what you can do better. And you want to create and environment that's conducive for these kids to learn.''

Guard Ryan Boatright said the players also take it upon themselves to make sure everyone is doing what they need to do in the classroom.

``If they oversleep, you wake `em up and tell `em to go to class,'' he said. ``Because if you oversleep and miss class and they check your class, we've got to run for that. Nobody wants to run for somebody else not going to class, so we definitely make sure everybody goes to class and does their work.''

The APR doesn't track grades, but measures whether students are in good academic standing. Each athlete receives one point per semester for remaining academically eligible, and another point each semester for remaining at that school or graduating.

One player, center Enosch Wolf, left school early last year. But, because he signed a professional contract in Europe and was in good academic standing when he left school, his departure is not expected to affect the team's score.

UConn scored a 978 out of 1000 in 2010-11 and a 947 for the 2011-12 school year. That qualified them for the upcoming season's' NCAA tournament. Under rules implemented in 2011, the NCAA requires a team to have a 900 average over four years or a 930 over two years to qualify for its postseason.

The perfect score means the team will easily qualify again for next year's tournament.

``I think the message is, we ain't ever going to be back on that banned list,'' Boatright said.

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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