Georgetown senior center Wesley Wilson has been given a "temporary leave of absence" by the school's College of Arts and Sciences for "personal reasons," Coach Craig Esherick said yesterday.

Wilson missed Monday's game at Syracuse because of what Esherick at the time said was a back injury serious enough for him, hours before tip-off, to be sent back to Washington to see a specialist.

"Wesley has a problem that relates to more than his back," Esherick said. "He has not been kicked off the team. Both his return to school and his return to the team are open-ended."

The 6-foot-11 Wilson is staying in the area with a relative and, Esherick said, will not play Saturday against UCLA at MCI Center and almost certainly will miss Tuesday night's Big East Conference game at Rutgers. In the Georgetown media guide, Wilson listed his favorite place to visit as his grandfather's house in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. His grandfather died Dec. 31.

Neither Wilson nor his parents, who live in San Francisco, were available to comment, and Esherick said, "His mother and father want his privacy to be honored."

Esherick said Wilson has been on track to earn his degree in May.

Because he missed his freshman season with NCAA-related academic issues but is on track to graduate on time, Wilson could return to the Hoyas next season. But Esherick said before this season that Wilson would not return and added, "If he has the kind of year I think he can have, then I'll be just as happy for him as I'm sure he'll be for himself."

Wilson also was optimistic in the preseason, saying he would become one of the best inside players in the country.

That has not happened. Last season, he averaged 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 25.5 minutes. In 17 games this season, he averaged 6.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 15.9 minutes. In seven conference games, he averaged four fewer minutes and two fewer points and rebounds. NBA scouts have noticed Wilson's slippage but said his size would get him an invitation to the pre-draft developmental camps.

In his last game, which the Hoyas lost in double overtime on the road to Notre Dame on Saturday, Wilson had three fouls in slightly more than a minute after tip-off. One was a technical for protesting the second personal. Esherick said 6-8 senior Victor Samnick would again replace Wilson in the starting lineup against the Bruins. Samnick had 12 points and nine rebounds in the eight-point loss to Syracuse.

"Victor played very well," Esherick said. "I thought that during the game, but I realized he was even better when I watched the tape."

Esherick also said freshman guard Ashanti Cook (ankle) probably would play more Saturday. He has played a total of just seven minutes in two games since suffering the injury during a loss at Duke a month ago.

Senior center Wesley Wilson will not play against UCLA. His return is "open-ended."