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Cameroon Player Barred From Play

August 17, 2000

A nationally renowned basketball player from Cameroon won’t be allowed to play in Minnesota because he was brokered to schools by a woman running a questionable foreign-exchange program, the Minnesota State High School League said on Thursday.

MSHSL associate director Skip Peltier met with Benilde-St. Margaret’s officials to discuss 6-foot-10 senior center Simplice Njoya, who is part of an international program run by Julie Lyon of Plymouth, Minn.

Njoya has been working out in the Twin Cities this summer and has visited several schools, including Benilde-St. Margaret’s. He came to Minnesota after a year at The Berkshire School in Homestead, Fla., which he left when the Florida High School Activities Association expelled the private school after uncovering rampant recruiting violations.

Berkshire made national headlines last season while going 34-2 in its first year as a varsity program. Its roster included 12 foreign-exchange students, an international dream team of elite players from Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Panama, Yugoslavia, Puerto Rico, England, Virgin Islands and Cameroon, many of whom were recruited, in violation of Florida’s rules.

Sports Illustrated reported eight of Homestead’s 14 players were referred to the school by Lyon, although she was vague about her dealings with the school.

``That was all blown out of proportion,″ she told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis this week.

Bob Gibbons, who runs a national recruiting service, said several prominent Division I programs are recruiting Njoya.

``Njoya is a very gifted big man,″ Gibbons said. ``There is no mystery about him as a basketball player. The mystery is his status as a student and where he will end up this year.″

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