After an unsuccessful stint in minor league baseball, Stephen Lumpkins will return to American University this fall, with hopes of rejoining to the basketball team. The 6-foot-8 Lumpkins left the school in the spring of 2011 after he was drafted in the 13th round by the Kansas City Royals.
He remains within his five-year window of NCAA eligibility, but must receive approval from the Patriot League in order to play.
“We’re getting the paperwork done and we’ll have that submitted here soon,” said AU coach Jeff Jones, who said he doesn’t expect the process to be a mere formality.
“The Patriot League is a different kind of league,” he said.
In 37 innings in the Arizona League (rookie), Lumpkins gave up 54 hits and 33 walks with an ERA of 8.27. Lumpkins, a left-handed pitcher in high school, gave up the sport to play basketball at AU.
Lumpkins attracted attention in a pre-draft camp, throwing 88 m.p.h. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010, but opted to return to AU. Teams were intrigued by his blend of arm strength and height.
The forward was a second-team all-Patriot League choice in 2011, leading the conference in field goal shooting (59.3 percent) and placing second in rebounds (8.2 pg) and ninth in scoring (13.5 ppg).
“I always planned to return to American and complete my degree,” Lumpkins said in a statement. “Being away made me realize how much I miss basketball.”
Lumpkins will not be on scholarship. The NCAA doesn’t allow athletes who have played professional sports to receive financial aid, but they can return to the playing field if their professional experience was in a different sport.
Jones, who underwent hip surgery on Aug. 1, first heard from Lumpkins on Aug. 2, inquiring about the possibility of returning to the Eagles.
Lumpkins would boost the prospects of a team that missed his inside presence last year, but still contended for the Patriot League title, going 20-12. Lumpkins would team inside with 6-10 junior Tony Wroblicky, who emerged last year.
“I they grant the waver, then we can start thinking about the on-the-court stuff,” Jones said. “Right now, it’s wait and see.”