COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard Rakym Felder has been suspended indefinitely and won’t attend classes this fall, another blow to a thinning Gamecock backcourt that reached the Final Four this past April.
Felder’s status was announced by coach Frank Martin on Wednesday.
Felder had been suspended since June 30 for his involvement in a fight outside a bar. He was arrested July 13 and charged with assault and battery.
“Due to some unfortunate decisions by Rakym, he has been suspended indefinitely from our program,” Martin said in a statement.
Felder’s loss further weakens a South Carolina team that was already short in the backcourt after last season’s NCAA Tournament run. Three starting guards from last year, including leading scorer Sindarius Thornwell, along with rising sophomore P.J. Dozier, are no longer with the team. Dozier entered the NBA draft and, after not getting selected, signed this month with the Dallas Mavericks.
Thornwell signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, who picked him in the second round.
Felder, from Brooklyn, New York, was supposed to slide into one of the openings created by the departing guards. He played in 36 games last season, averaging 14.6 minutes off the bench.
Like the rest of the team, Felder stepped things up in the NCAAs. He scored 15 points, including going 7-of-8 at the foul line in the final five minutes to hold off No. 2 seed Duke, 88-81, in the second round.
Felder had nine points and three assists in South Carolina’s Sweet 16 win, a 70-50 victory over No. 3 seed Baylor.
Minus Felder, the Gamecocks only guard from South Carolina’s regular rotation with experience at South Carolina is junior Hassani Gravett.
Felder took full responsibility for his actions and apologized to the school, the team and Gamecock fans in a statement through his attorney, Neal Lourie.
“I know I have let you down and I will have to work hard to regain your trust,” Felder said.
Lourie said Felder has personal issues that “he cannot fix alone and requires professional help.” Lourie did not elaborate on those problems.
This is the second time Felder has been arrested since enrolling. Last October, he was tasered by police stemming from a bar fight and charged with six counts, including assault and battery and resisting arrest.
Felder entered a pre-trial intervention program and played after missing only one game. “‘He’s a beautiful kid, not a good kid, a beautiful kid,” Martin said on Nov. 13 in defense of playing Felder against Holy Cross.
Lourie requested a jury trial on Felder’s latest charge. A trial date has not been set.
Martin said he’ll stand by Felder this time, too, and continue to “help Rakym grown as a young man even though basketball is not part of our relationship right now.”
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