Sophomore guard De’Anthony Melton will be held out of play indefinitely from the men’s basketball team due to concerns surrounding his eligibility. The news broke just before tip-off of the team’s season opener last Friday.
“USC is working diligently to independently investigate this matter in order to confirm that De’Anthony meets the NCAA eligibility requirements,” USC said in a statement minutes before tip-off of the game against Cal State Fullerton.
Melton’s suspension comes as an investigation into associate head coach Tony Bland. Bland is involved in a nationwide FBI investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball recruiting. He was indicted last Tuesday by a federal grand jury for charges including bribery and wire fraud.
Bland allegedly facilitated $9,000 in total to two families of USC basketball players or recruits, one a rising freshman and the other a rising sophomore in August, according to court documents. The two athletes have not been named. All other players on the Trojans’ roster suited up and played in the team’s 84-42 season opening victory.
Melton’s attorney, Vicki I. Podberesky, told the Los Angeles Times that “multiple investigations” found no evidence that would deem Melton ineligible.
“He hopes that USC will demonstrate the same level of loyalty and commitment to him that he has given to the school and the USC basketball program,” Podberesky said to the Times.
Melton broke out last year in his first season as a Trojan, starting in the final 25 games of the season. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound guard averaged 8.3 points, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He led the Pac-12 with 69 steals on the season, and led the team’s comeback victory over Texas A&M to keep the Trojans dancing during March Madness.