Memphis junior forward Wesley Witherspoon will miss Wednesday’s game at Southern Miss before he is reinstated to the team for practice on Thursday.
“The plan is to reinstate him on Thursday and have a fresh, clean slate. I’m taking it day by day,” said Pastner, who met with Witherspoon on Monday. “We had a good meeting. It was good. Very positive and very productive.”
Witherspoon also hasn’t been allowed to practice with the Tigers since the suspension, which was implemented after Witherspoon mocked an assistant coach on the player’s shuttle back to campus from the Memphis airport following a loss at SMU last Wednesday.
Ironically, the Tigers played one of their best games on the season on Saturday without Witherspoon, beating Marshall 77-61. Prior to being suspended, Witherspoon had been struggling, averaging just 6.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg in his previous four games. He had also lost his starting spot to DJ Stephens.
Witherspoon may not be the leader that everyone thought he would be prior to the season, but at the very least Memphis needs him to be a positive influence on the game. A certain level of distraction can be tolerated when you are performing on the court. Obviously, Witherspoon breached Pastner’s threshold.
Witherspoon is the second player that Josh Pastner has suspended this season, as freshman Jelan Kendrick was eventually kicked off the team after failing to live up to Pastner’s standards. And who knows how much of an influence Pastner’s demands had on Angel Garcia opting to turn professional.
The young man that looks like he’s 15 and doesn’t curse clearly runs a tight ship.
Hopefully, Witherspoon can abide to those rules. The Tigers could certainly use his talent.