Mother's illness forces St. Amant to leave

EL PASO, Texas -- Giovanni St. Amant, a player who was part
of the turnaround of the University of Texas at El Paso's
basketball program over the last three seasons, will be leaving the
team to be with his ill mother.

"It is with deep regret that due to my mother's illness I am
leaving UTEP," St. Amant said in a written release.

St. Amant, who would have been a senior this season, set
freshman records for points (407), scoring average (13.6), 20-point
games (seven) and free throw percentage (82.8 percent) while the
Miners struggled through a 6-24 season.

As the Miners won 51 games and made two NCAA Tournament
appearances in the last two seasons, St. Amant sometimes started
and sometimes came off the bench.

"This is a situation where I can't say I'm totally surprised,
but I can say I'm disappointed and sad," UTEP coach Doc Sadler
said at a press conference Thursday. "Gio did a lot for this
program over the last three years. His mom became very, very sick
last year and spent six months in the hospital."

"I visited with Gio and his mother this morning on the phone,
and they confirmed it was better for him to be closer to home,"
Sadler said. "I don't foresee Gio coming back to UTEP -- except to

St. Amant of Long Beach, Calif., leaves UTEP with 848 career
points and a career free throw percentage of 79.6 percent.