News broke last night that Demetrius Walker had been suspended indefinitely from the New Mexico basketball team for what is being termed a violation of team rules.
“I won’t say anymore about it,” head coach Steve Alford told the Albuquerque Journal. “I want to protect him obviously. It’s an indefinite suspension and we’ll just see how it plays out the rest of the year.”
It will be a blow to the Lobos’ depth, but in recent weeks Walker’s playing time has been cut. He hasn’t played in the last four games as freshman Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas has passed him on the depth chart. Walker is a fourth-year junior having redshirted during the 2010-2011 season after transferring in from Arizona State. If he graduates in May, he can transfer to another Division I program for his senior season without having to sit out a year.
“Losing a teammate like that for me personally is tough and I think collectively we’re going to have to come together and try to move on,” Kendall Williams, who is close with Walker, said. “Getting ready for Vegas, you have to lock in your mind. I don’t think I’d be telling the truth if you said you didn’t feel for D-Walk and that the team’s not going to feel it.”
Anyone that knows Walker’s history will agree with that. As a 14 year old, Walker was put on the cover of Sports Illustrated and touted as the next hoops phenom. But, as was chronicled in the terrific book Play Their Hearts Out by George Dohrmann, Walker was taken advantage of throughout his teenage years, forgotten and neglected when the 6-foot-3 14 year old never was still 6-foot-3 as a 17 year old.
Even from afar, it’s tough to watch Walker’s career take another heart-breaking turn for the worse.
The good news?
He should still get his degree, which is more important than anything else at this point, and he still has another year to play.
One can only hope he’ll find success as a hooper wherever he winds up for that season.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.