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Friday, August 31, 2007

Background Stories on Tyrone Weeks, New Tiger Assistant Coach (1 of 3 in Series)

Tyrone Weeks,
Class: Senior Position: Forward
Height: 6'7" Weight: 258

DOB: April 30, 1974

Hometown: Philadelphia

High School: Franklin Learning Center

Vital Stats: 10.3 points per game, 8.6 rebounds

by Chad Millman

As a misdirected high schooler in North Philadelphia, UMass forward Tyrone Weeks was a basketball prodigy who once missed 30 consecutive days of school. Five years later he's a scholar with little hope of an NBA career. Because of that, years after he has played his last game and decades after his contributions on the basketball court have been forgotten, Weeks will be remembered as a pioneer.

As a freshman in 1993-94, Weeks was a Proposition 48 casualty, unable to play for the Minutemen that season because he failed to meet minimum academic standards during his senior year at Philadelphia's Franklin Learning Center. Embarrassed by this shortcoming, Weeks dedicated himself to his education. During his sophomore year he made the dean's list with a 3.5 GPA.

With Weeks in mind, UMass administrators petitioned the NCAA to grant a fourth season of eligibility to Prop 48 candidates who complete their degree in four years. The NCAA passed what became known as Proposition 68, and Weeks became the first former Prop 48 student to take advantage of the rule.

"When I recruited him," says UMass coach Bruiser Flint, "there were people in Philadelphia who told me he'd never make it in college. There were times when he struggled, but he worked hard and turned himself around."

Weeks has been primarily responsible for the Minutemen's turnaround the last year and a half. After coach John Calipari left for the NBA, UMass lost nine of its first 15 games of the '96-97 season. Since that point, the team is 34-14. Weeks, in his second year as team captain, has averaged 11.3 and 8.7 rebounds over those two seasons.

Weeks graduated with a degree in education in 1997. So, with his extra year of eligibility, he has completed a second undergraduate degree in African-American studies. Because chronic heel and ankle injuries limit his mobility, he knows a career in the pros is unlikely. Instead Weeks has his sights set on becoming a teacher. He'll spend the rest of his life in school, making up for lost time.

"I'm doing some positive things in my life," says Weeks. "It's been special just to show people how grown up I've become. I can't stop smiling."

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