Painter, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound Norfolk native, left North Carolina State with one year of eligibility remaining in order to be closer to his family and his ailing great-grandmother, the woman who essentially raised him.
But instead of sitting out the year, customary under NCAA rules, Painter will play his senior season in 2012-13 in front of family and friends.
“I’m so excited. It’s just a blessing,” Painter said Thursday. “I never really got the opportunity to play in front of my family (in college), but to be able to come home and have them see me play, it’s just very special.
“My (great)-grandmother, she raised me, so I feel like she’ll get to see the man I’ve become, kind of the finished product.”
Painter provides an immediate boost for an ODU team that graduated several effective frontline players in the past two years and will have 10 freshmen and sophomores next season.
“Just what the doctor ordered,” said Monarchs’ coach Blaine Taylor, who learned of the NCAA decision Thursday morning. “Having him allows us to move forward with some clarity as we put together a team.”
Painter averaged 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds while playing 20 minutes per game last season for N.C. State’s NCAA Sweet 16 team. He was reluctant to leave, given his time in Raleigh and the Wolfpack’s prospects for next season, but said he felt obligated to return home.
The NCAA ruling also permits him to travel with the Monarchs this summer on a preseason trip to Greece and Italy.
“I get to grow with the team,” he said. “Any time you get a chance to be together and play together, you can start to work through some of the growing pains you have with a new team.”
Painter relishes the chance to compete right away and not simply be a practice body. He will be one of seven new faces on the roster for a team in its final year of Colonial Athletic Association competition. The Monarchs leave for Conference USA in 2013. He joins freshmen Aaron Bacote (Bethel), Keenan Palmore, Deion Clark, Ekene Anachebe, Ambrose Mosley and Stuart McEwen, a mid-year enrollee from prep school.
“I hope I can help bring the young guys along,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to get to show the young guys how to carry themselves, on and off the court.”
Painter said that his game will evolve, even from last season. At N.C. State, he often played facing the basket, while with ODU he will be both a low-post presence, as well as face the basket.
He said that he was prepared for whatever the NCAA decided and was determined to be a good teammate, whether he played immediately or had to sit out a season.
“It’s a big deal,” he said of the decision, “but it’s not the most important part. Basketball is just a little aspect of life. Being back with my family is so exciting, and now that I’ve got this waiver, that just makes it so much better. It goes to show you that if you do good things, good things happen to you.”