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Pitino: 'Absolutely' willing to release Jarvis Johnson if he wants to play elsewhere

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Gopher's men's basketball coach Richard Pitino said Tuesday that he would be "absolutely" willing to release former DeLaSalle standout Jarvis Johnson should he decide he wants to play elsewhere.

Johnson chose Minnesota over several other potential suitors during his recruitment, but in June, just before the start of summer workouts, Pitino announced the university wouldn't clear Johnson to play because of a heart condition.

Pitino has said since the news broke that he would like Johnson to remain with the program. As to Johnson's role, Pitino said at a news conference Tuesday he'd like Johnson to be as active as he'd like to be.

Johnson will join the Gophers on their upcoming trip to Spain, but he won't play.

Johnson was diagnosed with the heart condition when he was in eighth grade, after he collapsed while playing basketball.

He had a defibrillator implanted in his chest, allowing him to return to the court. The 6-foot-1 guard then went on to become a starter on four straight state championship teams at DeLaSalle.

Family members have said they were surprised the Gophers wouldn't clear Johnson to play.

The Star Tribune reports that Johnson is enrolled in summer classes at Minnesota and has remained with the team, though he hasn't participated in workouts or practices.

The Gophers leave for their trip to Spain on Monday.

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