Baylor's offseason and immediate future just took a turn south. The Bears, who were slated to come in second or third in the Big 12 (unless you ask the coaches...who think that Rick Barnes will do better with less experience and talent?), just suspended probably preseason All-American and team leader, LaceDarius Dunn.
Dunn is charged with aggravated assault (a second-degree felony); he turned himself over to the police today. According to the Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com (read the full story here):
[Police officer] Roseborough told CBSSports.com that officers were called to Hillcrest Hospital to investigate an assault on Sept. 27. When police arrived, the victim, Lacharlesia Edwards, was suffering from a broken jaw caused by Dunn punching Edwards in the face, according to Roseborough."
Like all domestic abuse situations, things aren't as black-and-white as they might seem at first glance. Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports talked to the victim's father (read the full story here):
Edwards' father, told FOXSports.com on Tuesday that the incident was an accident.
"She said it was an accident," Charles Edwards told FOXSports.com. "She said she sneaked up on him in the dark and he hit her by mistake. It wasn't a fight at all."
"She doesn't want to press charges or anything like that," he added. "She's torn up now that he's been arrested."
Since the case isn't cut and dry, we'll be watching keenly for any updates on Dunn's criminal prognosis. If the father's comments are true--and there is no reason he, of all people, would exonerate Dunn if he thought any wrongs had been committed--then I assume Dunn will be released shortly (and the case closed).
Unfortunately, whether or not the accusation carries weight, alleged assault at the hands of college basketball players has spattered the headlines this offseason. June 30th, UNLV guard Tre'Von was arrested for choking a woman (September 28th, he agreed to a plea bargain); just last week, two Michigan State players were accused of sexual assault (let it be noted that the case appears to be closed now, without any charges being filed); and now this.
Analysis and naive commentary after the break.
Both previous incidents have ended as favorably as possible for the athletes involved: Tre'Von Willis pled to a much lighter sentence (and will be suspended for at least 10% of UNLV's games), and the Michigan State players never had a case brought against them (again, let me reiterate: I do not mean to accuse these players of a crime they haven't been convicted of or even charged with; I'm merely noting the situation). There may still be major repercussions from Michigan State (I believe a campus investigation is still pending) or from Tom Izzo--as there should be, should the charges prove accurate.
Regardless of the consequences, this is bad for college basketball. Even though the situations appear to be entirely shaded in gray, I think I speak for all college basketball fans when I say that I wish they never happened. There's nothing more disappointing than when your favorite player drags his (or her) name through the muck like this. These men are role models. I know it's cliche, but how many young boys want to be a professional athlete when they grow up? A better question might be how many boys don't want to be professional athletes when they grow up. Not many.
I know I remember when we first got a basketball goal. To this day, that was Santa's crowning achievement. I spent hours at that goal pretending I was playing college and professional basketball. I found the perfect spots where the rotten, wooden skeleton of the old garage would block my buzzer beaters; I lowered the goal (embarrassingly low) for dunk contests; I retraced my favorite games (I can't count the number of times I defeated Maryland in the final minute ala Jason Williams--before he was Jay), or rewrote them entirely; I even tried to channel my favorite players' celebratory moves after made shots.
I worshipped the 2001 Duke team. I was convinced Jason Williams would lead Duke to consecutive titles before going to NBA and single-handedly refuting the axiom that all Duke players suck in the NBA. Then he got in the motorcycle crash that ended his basketball career, and my infant NBA fandom died. I was crushed. He didn't even do anything morally wrong. I'm sure Falcon fans (young ones especially) were hurt even more when Vick was charged with dogfighting.
I'm not going to argue that hearing college players get arrested will lead young children down a dark path to prison: that's extreme and illogical. I do think that every time something like this happens, kids are totally let down. Tough to go out to the playground throwing touchdowns faster than your team can recover onside kicks when you would also have to fight dogs during the offseason.
I know it's naive, but we want to think athletes are perfect, especially as kids. I really hope athletes try to avoid these situations just for the sake of all of those kids playing pick-up alone or with friends on the playground or in their backyard. Here's to a season without arrests!