A pair of tall African teenagers awaits a Thursday appeal at the Secondary School Activities Commission in Parkersburg to determine if they are eligible to compete at the varsity level this season at Hurricane.
Bol Kuir, a 7-foot-2 sophomore from South Sudan, and Gabriel Beny, a 6-10 sophomore from Sudan, have been attending classes at Hurricane High School this semester after moving into Putnam County earlier this year. They have been living with Daniel Hicks, the former South Charleston standout who also played at New Mexico State and Concord.
Bernie Dolan, executive director of the SSAC, told the Gazette-Mail on Tuesday that the players are currently ineligible to play on the Redskins’ varsity squad because they are “not living with their testamentary guardians.’’
Dolan said students in those situations are eligible to practice with the varsity and play junior varsity games, but cannot participate at the varsity level. Hurricane coach Lance Sutherland said both Kuir and Beny were at practice Monday and Tuesday. They also worked out with the Redskins’ varsity players during the summer practice period.
“They’re going to file an appeal,’’ Dolan said. “They’re going to be here Thursday for their appeal, so it should become pretty clear then. If they get turned down, then they have to stay in the JV program their whole career. Unless somebody adopts them, they’re stuck on the JV level, until something changes. Primarily, that has to be an adoption or the board overturning [the rule].’’
Previously, it was announced that Hicks had adopted the teens, but that apparently didn’t satisfy all the legal provisions.
Hicks was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a federal judge in April 2017 for drug and false statement charges. The sentence included 17 months on a heroin distribution charge and a month for making a false statement to a federal agent during an investigation into Hicks’ attempt at creating West Virginia Prep Academy, a proposed prep school to lure basketball recruits to the area from around the world. Hicks was indicted by a federal grand jury on mail and wire fraud charges stemming from the situation.
Sutherland, who didn’t know about the players until they showed up at the high school last spring, would obviously like to add them to his roster, but will accept the ruling wherever it lands.
“It’s the SSAC’s decision,’’ Sutherland said. “I understand their point. I know where they’re coming from. They have to make a decision. That’s my understanding of it. My whole thing is: If they can play, great. If not, I’m happy with what I’ve got. I’ve got 23 people on the team and I’ve got a lot of things to worry about and a game on Dec. 14.
“I’d love to have them because they’re great kids to be around. Whatever happens, I want to make sure they get their education, whether it’s here at Hurricane and playing basketball or [somewhere else] — either way, as long as they get their education, I’m OK with it.’’