San Diego State is in need of a big man after Kawhi Leonard left for the NBA draft and Malcolm Thomas completed his eligibility. The rebuilding Aztecs hope the answer to their problem already lies within their program.
Center Brian Carlwell, a 6-foot-11, 300-pound presence who was a solid rotation member off the bench, has decided after some contemplation to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Carlwell played in all 37 games this season and hopes his past can help him gain another year. In 2007, he was playing at Illinois and seriously injured in a car accident in which his teammate Jamar Smith eventually pleaded guilty to driving under the influence causing great bodily harm. Carlwell suffered a severe concussion and then suffered a season-ending injury after three games that season before transferring to San Diego State. Even though he has already taken five years to play in four seasons, Carlwell wants one more.
From the Union-Tribune:
Technically, Carlwell is not applying for a medical hardship waiver since his five-year NCAA clock has expired and his sophomore season at Illinois was counted as a redshirt year. Instead, he is petitioning directly to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility based on what [coach Steve] Fisher calls "the whole package … of tremendously extenuating circumstances."
Massive head trauma can take months, even years, to overcome mentally and physically, and Carlwell has admitted he wasn’t "right" well into the following season.
"My equilibrium was thrown off," Carlwell told the Union-Tribune in a February 2010 interview. "Every now and then when I would walk, I would stumble. It was like I was really clumsy. Or things like a right-handed layup. I'm left-handed, so I had to rebuild that again … Everything was just a little off."
Getting Carlwell for another senior season would help the Aztecs, as he would become their leading returning rebounder after averaging 2.7 per game. San Diego State also has Loyola Marymount transfer Kevin Young becoming eligible to give the team a 6-foot-8 forward with a knack for rebounding.
Perhaps just as important, Carlwell was a member of two NCAA tournament teams and could bring that experience back to the Aztecs. They could certainly use that link to the past while preparing to defend the Mountain West Conference title.