MINNEAPOLIS -- One of Minnesota's top incoming freshmen has been denied medical clearance to play for the men's basketball team.
The university announced Monday that point guard Jarvis Johnson, who has a heart condition, will remain on scholarship and with the program. The Minneapolis native, however, won't be able to take the court with the rest of the Gophers this season, according to a joint statement from Johnson, his family and the athletic department.
"While we are extremely disappointed, the health and welfare of Jarvis is our highest priority. We are excited that Jarvis has decided to accept his scholarship to the U and will remain a part of the basketball program.
"Coach Pitino and his staff are looking forward to having Jarvis on campus, where he will get an outstanding college education while supporting the team in any way he can. Jarvis has dreamed of being a part of the Gopher basketball family; and we are happy that he will be," the statement said.
Team spokesman Dan Reisig declined to divulge details about Johnson's condition, citing medical privacy laws.
Coach Richard Pitino was unavailable for further comment.
"Jarvis is a tremendous young man, and we support him and look forward to having him here," Pitino said in a statement distributed by the school.
Johnson collapsed on the court during practice as an eighth-grader five years ago. He was diagnosed with a disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes an excessive thickening of the muscle of the heart that makes it harder to pump blood. Doctors then estimated Johnson's heart stopped beating for as long as 10 minutes. He had a defibrillator implanted in his chest, allowing him to resume playing the following season.
The 6-foot-1 Johnson was the first Minnesota player signed by Pitino straight from high school. At De La Salle, Johnson helped lead the Islanders to four straight Class 3A state championships.