UCLA transfer Josh Smith declared eligible for Georgetown

Stephen Dunn

The center will be able to play for the Hoyas in their season opener against Oregon.

The NCAA has ruled former UCLA center Josh Smith eligible to play immediately for the Georgetown Hoyas. Smith will suit up Nov. 8 for their season opener against Oregon.

Smith was also given a Season of Competition waiver for last year when he appeared in just six games for the Bruins. That will give the big man two seasons to play for John Thompson III and the Hoyas.

Smith saw a noticeable drop in production from his freshman to sophomore seasons at UCLA. His points per game dropped from 9.9 to 5.2, his free throw percentage dipped under 50 percent and he played about four fewer minutes per contest.

Former UCLA coach Ben Howland criticized Smith's commitment in the past, especially when his performance slipped after being named all-conference as a freshman. The center has been practicing with Georgetown since January.

Despite questions about his past, Thompson is confident that Smith will be a key part to a Georgetown team entering the first season of the new-look Big East.

"We are excited that the NCAA has approved the waiver for Joshua. Now, he has to maintain a high level of commitment on and off the court. He will provide a significant low-post presence for this team."

Smith's role will be even more important this year with forward Greg Whittington recovering from a torn ACL. Whittington's status for the 2013-14 season is unclear.

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