De’Anthony Melton to sit out remainder of USC Basketball’s 2017-18 season

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images /

Sophomore guard De’Anthony Melton will sit out the remainder of USC Basketball’s 2017-18 season as a result of his connection to the FBI probe into bribery and fraud in college basketball.

De’Anthony Melton’s sophomore season for USC Basketball is over before it even began as the guard will not be allowed to play for the remainder of the 2017-18 campaign.

USC officially confirmed a report from Nathan Fenno of the LA Times on Thursday.

“Based on information discovered through its internal investigation regarding the receipt of extra benefits, primarily to a close family friend of De’Anthony Melton, USC has concluded that De’Anthony will not compete with the USC men’s basketball team in the 2017-18 season,” USC said in a statement.

“De’Anthony is a valued member of our program. He will have options for his future at USC, including remaining in school on scholarship while continuing to work on his degree and practicing with the team, and potentially compete for the Trojans in the 2018-19 season.”

As a potential first round draft pick, Melton could opt to leave the Trojans for the pros, or transfer to another program, where he would have to sit out a season before being eligible to play again.

Melton emerged as one of the brightest young starts on USC’s roster last season, starting the final 25 games of the season while averaging an impressive all-purpose stat line of 8.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. Only Dwayne Wade has put up similar numbers in a freshman campaign since 1992-93.

The rising talent led the Pac-12 in steals last and was regarded as USC’s top defensive presence in the back court coming into this season.

However, before the season began Melton was linked to the FBI bribery probe which led to indictments of several college basketball figures, including USC assistant Tony Bland. A family friend of Melton’s was accused of taking money from would-be financial advisers.

Though Melton himself has never been accused of wrongdoing, claiming to know nothing of the alleged pay off, his connection to potential NCAA violations caused USC to hold him out for the first 18 games of the campaign.

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Despite evidence in Melton’s favor emerging in late November, new allegations against Melton’s family friend appear to have been the final nail in the coffin.

Now he will miss the remaining 13 games of the regular season and any postseason action for the Trojans.

Melton’s absence has no doubt affected what was supposed to be a dream season for USC. The Trojans were ranked as high as No. 10 in the AP poll, but have dropped far from the rankings, losing six games to put their NCAA tournament hopes in serious doubt.

Teammates have consistently worn shirts emblazoned with “#FreeDMelt” in postgame press conferences and expressed similar sentiments on social media.

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With Melton’s fate now sealed, Andy Enfield and company can only hope a resolution to the matter will help the Trojans find their footing and get on with life without the talented guard.