The USC men’s basketball team took a big blow Thursday night before their game against West Alabama when senior guard J.T. Terrell was declared academically ineligible for the remainder of the semester.
Terrell started the Trojans’ season opener on the road against Utah State, but came off the bench for the team’s next two games and didn’t play at all on Tuesday against Cal State Fullerton.
USC head coach Andy Enfield would not release any specifics on the situation, but assured reporters after his team’s 76-62 win over Cal State Fullerton Tuesday night that Terrell was losing playing time for his performance in the classroom as opposed to any disciplinary reasons.
“To play for me and be a student-athlete at USC you have to do certain things academically,” Enfield said.
The Trojans have benefitted from an easy early non-conference schedule and currently hold a 3-1 record.
Terrell’s absence will become a much bigger issue as the Trojans travel to the Bahamas next week to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament with the likes of basketball powerhouses Villanova and Kansas.
Terrell was one of the few bright spots in the Kevin O’Neill era, and figured to be a huge contributor for Enfield’s squad this year. The Burlington, North Carolina native was the Trojans’ leading scorer last year, averaging just a shade more than 13 points per game.
Even in limited action in the three appearances he has made this year, Terrell was the team’s third leading scorer with 10 points per game.
Trouble has always seemed to follow Terrell. While attending Wake Forest University, he was sentenced to a yearlong probation and 60 days in jail after being arrested in Winston-Salem for allegedly driving while under the influence.
The former Wake Forest standout resumed his playing career at Peninsula Junior College in Los Angeles before committing to transfer to USC at the urging of former Demon Deacon teammate and then-USC forward Ari Stewart.
If he straightens out his academic situation then he would become eligible to play after the end of fall semester, in time for the Trojans’ contest against Long Beach State on Dec. 19.
Freshman Julian Jacobs has been starting in his place for the last few games. The Trojans will not be forced to forfeit any of the games Terrell participated in this season, according to the Los Angeles Times.
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