Coach Matt Brady expected junior Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens to spend the upcoming men's basketball season stuck on the James Madison bench.
Hitchens, who spent two seasons at Akron, transferred to JMU this past summer, following the death of his father in April. Typically, the NCAA requires transfers to sit out their first season at their new school.
But on Thursday, the NCAA informed JMU that Hitchens had been granted a waiver, making the 5'9" guard eligible to play this season.
"My thought process was that he'd redshirt," Brady said by phone Thursday. "But I've got to tell you, we're ecstatic."
Hitchens appeared in 68 games in his two seasons with the Zips, starting 52. He averaged 8.5 points per game as a sophomore, with a team-high 91 assists, and finished fourth in the Mid-American Conference with a 1.84 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Brady says Hitchens adds depth to the Dukes' back court, as well as defense and leadership.
"He's an impact player," said Brady, who is entering his third year as the Dukes' head coach. "He's a guy who could get double-doubles against anybody."