Or just turn their teams into minor league professionals?
The 2017-18 college basketball season officially got underway on Friday. Time for preseason narratives to play out, go wild with overreactions and … well, a lot of guys didn’t play.
Over the past six weeks, the biggest story in college basketball has been the federal investigation into corruption and bribery in the sport. Despite games getting underway, Friday was no different — and it wasn’t just because of the scandal.
We already knew Auburn’s Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy and Louisville’s Brian Bowen wouldn’t be playing. Oklahoma State and USC added to the list, with the Cowboys holding out star senior Jeffrey Carroll and the Trojans sitting De’Anthony Melton. Bowen is the outlier, but the other four players have no timetable for a return and it’s essentially a game-by-game, wait-and-see situation. Is there a chance they return next week? Is there a chance they miss the entire season? The answer to both could be yes. No one really knows.
The scandal-plagued programs weren’t the only ones missing players on Friday.
Arizona announced Friday afternoon that assistant coach Mark Phelps and senior forward Keanu Pinder were suspended for the Wildcats’ game against Northern Arizona. Phelps will also miss Sunday’s game against UMBC. Kansas freshman Billy Preston sat out on Friday after missing class and curfew. Alabama freshman Collin Sexton was suspended for Friday’s game, and the Crimson Tide were also missing three other key players due to injury. Texas A&M was without starting point guard J.J. Caldwell and lottery pick Robert Williams against West Virginia, which will miss Esa Ahmad for the first semester. Kezie Okpala, a top-50 incoming recruit, is out indefinitely due to academics. BYU guard Nick Emery withdrew from school and will miss the entire year. Houston star guard Rob Gray was suspended for Friday’s game. Clemson forward David Skara was suspended nine games. Arizona State suspended Romello White due to a team rules violation, and Kimani Lawrencesuffered an ankle injury on Thursday. Oh, and UCLA was also missing three freshmen — including LiAngelo Ball — for its game in China against Georgia Tech, which is withholding Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson for improper benefits.