Outrage builds after top HS player ruled ineligible due to clerical error

Maori Davenport of Troy, Ala., is a rising talent in USA Basketball's development pipeline and the No. 15 recruit in the 2019 women's class who's already committed to Rutgers for next season.

However, the 18-year-old Davenport is no longer eligible to play her senior season at Charles Henderson High School - at least according to the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

That's because after starring for her country at the FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship in the summer, Davenport received a stipend for $857.20 from USA Basketball to offset costs related to her commitment to the program, according to a revealing story by espnW's Walter Villa.

The stipend would be well within the rules for most athletes who participate with the national program. However, in Alabama, the AHSAA prohibits such payments greater than $250, which USA Basketball inadvertently overlooked. Even after Davenport returned the check, her state's athletic association ruled her ineligible for her final high school season.

And, following appeals from USA Basketball, which took responsibility for the administrative error, the AHSAA - led by executive director Steve Savarese - has refused to budge.

In response, the basketball world has largely expressed outrage at the AHSAA's decision while rallying behind Davenport.

During Saturday's broadcast of the marquee men's matchup between Kentucky and Alabama, ESPN's Jay Bilas provided a scathing synopsis of the issue:

Meanwhile, Davenport's future collegiate coach, Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer, stumped for her incoming recruit.

"Maori hadn’t done a doggone thing except receive the check from USA Basketball. It was grown-ups' fault," the Rutgers bench boss told NJ Advance Media's James Kratch.

"And grown-ups did not lay claim to that. Maori sent the money back the next day. She's a great kid, great student. She tried to do the right thing. And then the Alabama association … are you kidding me? This girl was up for player of the year, All-American. How can you do that?”

Dawn Staley, a Hall of Fame player and the current head coach at South Carolina, as well as head coach of USA Basketball's senior women's team, also decried the ruling.

"As I prepare (and) the excitement builds for our conference game today, I can only imagine the emptiness Maori Davenport feels every time her team suits up to play," Staley tweeted. "(Alabama) state officials, if you all have heart in your chest or a daughter, sister, or niece, do right by them, if not Maori!"

Davenport's story has even reached North America's top women's and men's professional leagues.

"The WNBA urges the Alabama High School Athletic Association to reinstate Maori Davenport," the WNBA tweeted on Thursday. "Let her play the rest of her senior season instead of being penalized for an honest mistake made by others."

"How is this even fair??" Houston Rockets star Chris Paul tweeted about Davenport. "This is CRAZY!!!! She shouldn't pay for someone else's mistake."

Outrage builds after top HS player ruled ineligible due to clerical error
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