KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee forward Emmanuel Negedu says he is following his dream to play basketball by transferring to New Mexico less than a year after he suffered sudden cardiac arrest.
Negedu told The Associated Press he has signed a scholarship offer to play with the Lobos and coach Steve Alford, has been cleared by New Mexico doctors and will enroll in classes in June. He is waiting to find out if he will receive an NCAA waiver that will allow him to play in the 2010-11 season.
"I've got to do what I've got to do," the 21-year-old Negedu said. "I want to chase my dreams to play basketball. I want to do what makes me happy, and that's what makes me so happy."
New Mexico athletics officials declined to comment since Negedu's enrollment process wasn't complete.
The 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward had just completed a team weightlifting session and had been racing a teammate on the Vols' indoor football field when he collapsed on Sept. 28. Negedu, from Kaduna, Nigeria, lost consciousness and had no pulse.
Tennessee athletic trainer Chad Newman and director of sports medicine Jason McVeigh used an automatic external defibrillator and performed CPR to revive Negedu. He later underwent surgery to have a cardiac defibrillator implanted in his chest to monitor his heart's rhythm and delivery energy when an irregularity occurs.
Negedu, who averaged 7.2 minutes, 1.9 rebounds and 1.7 points in 33 games as a freshman in 2008-09; he sat out last season. Tennessee officials decided they wouldn't allow him to play after consulting with doctors, clearing his path to transfer.
Alford had recruited Negedu out of high school at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., while the coach was at Iowa.
While he knows he'll miss his Tennessee coaches and teammates and the Volunteers fans, he said transferring is the right thing for him.
"These past few months were very hard. I'm excited about playing again," Negedu said.
AP Sports Writer Tim Korte in Albuquerque, N.M., contributed to this story.