FILE - Mississippi State forward Wendell Lewis has been dismissed from the basketball program due to conduct detrimental to the team. Photo by: MSU athletics
October 3, 2013 4:24:34 PM
STARKVILLE - The tradition of Rick Ray and the Mississippi State men's basketball program losing players before the season tips off continues.
School officials confirmed to The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog Thursday afternoon senior forward Wendell Lewis was dismissed from the program due to conduct detrimental to the team. The news was first reported by CBSSports.com senior college basketball columnist Gary Parrish.
In his MSU career, Lewis appeared in 98 games during his career with 13 starts. He averaged 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds and per game. Lewis was the only other experienced player at center behind All-SEC freshman team selection Gavin Ware on the roster. MSU officials confirmed to The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog that Lewis will remain on scholarship this academic year despite being dismissed from the team.
Parrish's report said a source confirmed the dismissal is related to a failed drug test by Lewis.
Lewis was currently not able to physically participate in the preseason practices, which began Monday, due to recovery from a second surgery on his right patella that kept him out of most of the 2012-13 season. The Selma, Ala. native was averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds at the time of last season's injury.
"I am saddened by the actions we had to take because we brought Wendell back to give him an opportunity to complete his senior year on the court healthy and earn his degree," Ray said in a university release.
The Southeastern Conference approved the medical hardship request for Lewis after his knee injury that sidelined him for the remaining 24 games. However, that waiver is now worthless after Lewis violated team rules while he was rehabbing the injury.
"We are pleased that the SEC has granted Wendell another year of eligibility," MSU coach Rick Ray said in June when Lewis received the waiver. "I really believe that Wendell needed another year in our program to improve on the court because he was just beginning to make strides right before his injury after coming off two straight games where he scored career highs. This move is beneficial for both Wendell and our basketball program."
Lewis becomes the eighth player to leave or be removed from MSU program with eligibility left since Rick Ray took over as head coach from Rick Stansbury on April 1, 2012. Lewis is the second player to leave or be dismissed on the 2013-14 roster after senior guard Jalen Steele left the men's basketball program on Sept. 17 with the intention to transfer after he graduates following the spring semester.
Junior forward Roquez Johnson is the last remaining scholarship player from the roster Stansbury left after the school's all-time wins leader announced his retirement. However, Ware, sophomore guard Craig Sword and sophomore guard Fred Thomas were all signed during the early period by Stansbury's staff.
The front court depth is now practically nonexistent for MSU this season after Lewis' dismissal and the NCAA Eligibility ruling in August that 6-foot-11 center Fallou Ndoye from Senegal as a partial qualifier after completing the initial-eligibility waiver.
Ndoye, who starred at the nationally-recognized Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., isn't eligible to compete until the 2014-15 campaign but is allowed to receive his athletic scholarship for MSU and participate in all practices and workouts this year as a redshirt player.
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