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USC Basketball: Leonard Washington becomes eligible, scores 10 in return

December 23, 2009 |  5:29 pm

USC forward Leonard Washington heard the phone ring twice while he was in the shower this morning, but he missed both calls. When he got out, he checked, and found out he missed some good news he had long awaited.

His grades had been posted, and he was cleared to play against St. Mary's after missing every game this semester because he was academically ineligible.

The sophomore's impact was clearly felt in USC's 60-49 win in the second round of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, advancing the team to Friday's final against either Nevada Las Vegas or Hawaii. Washington scored 10 points off the bench on four-for-eight shooting. He also had six rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

"It was tough at first, trying to find my wind, but as the game went on I got my second wind and it turned out good," he said by phone from Hawaii.

Washington averaged 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds last season, and USC Coach Kevin O'Neill has often said Washington is one of the team's few "playmakers." With the addition of Mike Gerrity, who became eligible to play Friday after sitting out because of NCAA transfer rules, O'Neill has said the team will be much more complete.

For Washington, this mornings' news was certainly good, and he said it was an "early Christmas present."

But he said he had even better news: Later this week, his oldest sister is expected to give birth to her first child, a boy.

"Good news," Washington said.

--Baxter Holmes