Hart Says He's Leaving Buckeyes, Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Freshman guard JaQuan Hart has left Ohio State and has decided not to continue his education, coach Jim O'Brien said Friday.

Hart, a 6-foot-6 swingman from Flint, Mich., already was academically ineligible this season. He was a partial qualifier, which meant he practiced with the team but could not play.

Several recruiting services had rated Hart among the top 40 prospects in the nation last year.

He originally signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Michigan, but failed to post a requisite score on the ACT college entrance examination. The school does not accept partial qualifiers.

When he didn't achieve the required score, Hart started considering other schools that had recruited him and eventually chose Ohio State. Cincinnati, Michigan State and Oklahoma also recruited him.

Hart had said he would not play in his first year no matter where he went to school. He said he would use the year to put more bulk on his lanky frame.

Hart was a Class A All-State selection by The Associated Press and runner-up in the Mr. Basketball voting last winter, when he led Flint Northern to the state semifinals. He averaged 18.9 points in the regular season while shooting 70 percent from the field and 43 percent on 3-pointers.

Ohio State also said on Friday that Ricardo Billings, a 6-foot-3 guard from Rogers High School in Detroit, and Charles Bass, a 6-foot-8 forward from Crete-Monee High School in Crete, Ill., have signed letters of intent to play for Ohio State in the 2002-2003 school year.

Billings averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists as a junior. Bass averaged 16 pounds, 8 rebounds and three assists as a junior.

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)