WHITE HALL — The White Hall boys' basketball team was already clinging to the fourth playoff spot from the 5A-Southeast Conference after Friday's loss to Watson Chapel.
WHITE HALL — The White Hall boys’ basketball team was already clinging to the fourth playoff spot from the 5A-Southeast Conference after Friday’s loss to Watson Chapel.
But a bigger loss happened before Friday’s game when the Arkansas Activities Association deemed guard Jalen Wilkins ineligible for the rest of the season. According to White Hall athletic director and assistant principal Craig Dupuy, the AAA also said Wilkins was actually ineligible to play during any game this season, and White Hall must forfeit all of the wins in which Wilkins was on the active roster, which was all seven games.
White Hall was 7-6 overall and 2-3 in the conference and now is 0-13 and 0-5. For now, Wilkins’ high school basketball career is also over since he is a senior, but Dupuy added that if Wilkins’ mother moved to White Hall before the end of the season, Jalen would be eligible to play for the team again.
“It was just an inadvertent use of an ineligible player,” Dupuy said. “The AAA deemed that his situation, which I had read in the rulebook being one way, was not the way it should be and basically ruled him ineligible.”
The situation, as Dupuy put it, dealt with the school Wilkins transferred from — Ridgway Christian School, which is not an AAA-member school. According to Dupuy, Wilkins attended the first day of the first semester at White Hall, which is an AAA-member school.
According to the AAA, if a player transfers from a non-AAA member school to a AAA member school, the said player is ineligible for a full year.
“That’s what the AAA says,” Dupuy said. “We don’t read it that way, but that’s what the AAA says.”
Wilkins’ mother has a residence in the Pine Bluff School District, Dupuy said, so he was only eligible to play for Pine Bluff High School, according to the AAA rulebook.
“They just keep going back to his domicile being Pine Bluff,” Dupuy said. “We are very disappointed. We are hurt for the kid, hurt for the team and hurt for coach (Joe) Stacey.”
Stacey said the team is taking the loss hard.
“It’s devastating to the ball team,” he said. “We are just trying to get our head up right now … that affected us against Watson Chapel and it will affect us until we can regroup.”
Watson Chapel co-athletic director John Hayden and coach Matt Busch denied rumors that Wilkins was recruited by their school to play for them. “I do not know anything about that,” Hayden said about the rumor.
When asked if Watson Chapel was the school that turned White Hall in, Hayden said, “That is not true.”
Stacey said he has never recruited a player, either.
“Jalen came out here to play ball and according to everything we knew, he was eligible,” Stacey said.