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Latimore opts to leave the Irish

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dennis Latimore’s announcement came as much less of a surprise.

Four days after junior Torin Francis made himself eligible for the NBA Draft, the senior Latimore announced Monday he won’t be returning for the 2005-06 season at Notre Dame, electing not to use his final year of eligibility.

“I’ve enjoyed the past two years that I have spent here at Notre Dame both as a student and an athlete,” Latimore said in a statement. “I am very grateful for the educational opportunity that I have experienced and feel that my degree has prepared me for my future both on and off the court. I am extremely appreciative of the support from the community during my time here.”

At the basketball banquet on Wednesday night, Latimore won the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award given annually to the member of the men’s basketball team with the highest grade point average. Latimore will be graduating in May with a degree English and African-American studies.

Rumored to possibly not be returning for the past couple of weeks, Latimore transferred to Notre Dame in June 2003 and sat out the 2003-04 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Latimore averaged 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds last season when he played 20.6 minutes per game. He made 14 starts and appeared in all 29 games.

Latimore spent his first two seasons at Arizona, where he played in 57 games, averaging 2.4 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

The only season Latimore spent playing for the Irish could be classified as a disappointment after he gained a lot of hype as playing well in practices during his redshirt season. Former Irish coach Digger Phelps even repeatedly said Latimore was the best player on the team last season.

But Irish coach Mike Brey said Monday the possibility of Latimore wearing an Irish uniform for only one season wasn’t something that just came up recently.

“This was actually discussed on the front end of Dennis’ recruiting – the chance that he would play just one year for us,” Irish coach Mike Brey said in a statement. “Given the fact that he has graduated and we have a lot of younger big guys we want to develop, we are moving forward with the decision Dennis and I have made together.

“I am very proud of how Dennis represented us academically and athletically.”

Latimore said in the statement that he plans to pursue a professional career next year either in the United States or abroad.