Will Wade has dismissed freshmen Mayan Kiir and Galen Alexander from LSU’s basketball team and suspended freshman Brandon Rachal and sophomore Wayde Sims, sources told Tiger Rag on Monday.
Wade said in a press conference Monday Kiir would take “a leave of absence” from the program until the end of the season, with a chance to be re-instated to the team, “if he meets certain standards.” Alexander will not return to the program, while Sims and Rachal will serve one-game suspensions for violating team policies.
The Tigers (12-8, 3-5 SEC) will travel to No. 19 Tennessee on Tuesday with just seven eligible scholarship players for Wednesday’s 5:30 pm tip.
Kiir, a four-star signee first for Wade at VCU and then at LSU, has appeared in eight games this season, averaging 5.4 minutes. He averaged 1.9 points and 2.0 rebounds and recently missed three games with what Wade called an illness. He did not travel to Arkansas – Wade said he was suspended for a violation of team rules – or dress for the Alabama or Georgia games.
“He’s somebody who’s going to take a leave of absence as well,” Wade said, “but he could possibly be back. He’s not dismissed or anything like that. He needs some time. We gave Galen a little time earlier this season away from the team to try to get some things in order. We’re going to give Kiir some time. Just like most young kids, young men, young freshmen need as they adjust to college and some of the pressures of college.
“We’re going to give him some time. If he meets certain standards we’ve clearly laid out for him, there’s a possibility he could return to our team at the end of the semester. He clearly knows those standards. It’s on him for how he does. We’ll see how much he wants to be here.”
Alexander signed with LSU first under Johnny Jones and stuck with Wade. The four-star freshman from Lafayette played in nine games, averaging 6.1 minutes per contest. He scored 1.9 points per game and grabbed 2.1 rebounds.
“Galen will take a leave of absence from our team for the rest of the season, then he will look for other places at the end of the season as he looks to continue to move his life in a positive direction,” Wade said. “We’re certainly going to be there to support him as he moves forward.”
Sims and Rachal have split time at the four position for LSU in recent games, spelling starter Aaron Epps in shifts. Sims averages 5.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game, while Rachal averages 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game.
“It’s my decision,” Wade said of Sims and Rachal. “It’ll be just a one game suspension for those guys for something you shouldn’t do within a team. They’ll be out.”
Wade said he found out about the incidents on Friday before LSU’s trip to Auburn.
“I just didn’t have time to execute some of the decisions before the game,” Wade said. “By the time some of the stuff got to my desk, it was Friday of last week. I didn’t feel like it was in our best interest to do anything Friday before a game. I needed some time to where I had a little bit of a break to do what needed to be done.”
Without either at his disposal – and with grad transfer Jeremy Combs done for the year with a bad ankle – Wade will have to find solutions, likely from his perimeter, to fill in the gaps. Epps and Duop Reath will be the Tigers’ only available post players, with the rest of the available scholarship players – Tremont Waters, Skylar Mays, Randy Onsuwasor, Daryl Edwards, and Brandon Sampson – all guards. Walk-in Marshall Graves has been in the rotation at times as a guard.
LSU’s issues inside are already bad enough at full strength. The Tigers rank last in all five major rebounding categories in conference play: rebounding margin (-7.0), offensive rebounds (8.6), defensive rebounds (22.8), offensive rebounding percentage (24.8%), and defensive rebounding percentage (65.0%).
This isn’t the first trouble Alexander, Kiir or Sims have run into. LSU police arrested the three in the summer after shooting paintballs at pedestrians on campus.
Here is everything Wade said Monday.
“First off, let me address, I know some stuff broke with our team. (Wayde) Sims and (Brandon) Rachal won’t be playing or traveling to Knoxville with us. They will not be playing at UT after just a violation of our team policies. It was my decision. They will be back after the Tennessee game. It will just be a one-game suspension for those guys for something you shouldn’t do within a team. They will be out.
“As it relates to the other two, Galen (Alexander) will take a leave of absence from our team for the rest of the season. Then, he will look for other places at the end of the season as he looks to continue to move his life in a positive direction. We will certainly be there to support him as he moves forward. As it relates to (Mayan) Kiir, he is somebody who is going to take a leave of absence, as well, but he could possibly be back. He’s not dismissed or anything like that. He needs some time. We gave Galen a little bit of time earlier this season away from the team to try to get some things in order. We are going to give Kiir some time just like most young kids and young men and young freshmen need as they adjust to college and some of the pressures and some of the things that go on in college. We are going to give him some time, and if he meets certain standards that we have clearly laid out for him, there’s a possibility that he could return to our team at the end of the semester. He clearly knows those standards. It’s on him for how he does. We will see how much he wants to be here. That’s where we are with all of that.
“We do play Tennessee on Wednesday. They happen to be a very good team. We have a lot of work to do to get ready. For them, Grant Williams is a phenomenal player. He is a really, really good teammate. They’re a really physical team, very well-coached and well-disciplined. It will be a tough matchup for us up there.”
On when he had made the decisions to suspend …
“I had made decisions before that game (at Auburn) last week. I just didn’t have time to execute some of the decisions before the game. By the time some of the stuff got to my desk, it was Friday of last week, and I just didn’t feel like it was in our best interest to do anything on Friday, the day before a game. I just needed some time where I had a little bit of a break to do what needed to be done.”
On being short-handed in the post …
“We will figure that out. We have Duop (Reath). We have (Aaron) Epps. We have those other guys back. We can play small. Teams have to guard you if you play small. That’s on me as a coach to figure that out. We will put a plan together and do as best as we can.”
On the lessons learned from this …
“They made a mistake. They made a mistake that young people make. I think they both regret it. I don’t want to put words in their mouths, but they’re good kids. They’re good people. They just made a mistake just like everybody else, probably everybody in this room in college made a mistake. It’s difficult as a coach. You look at yourself as a parent-figure and want to help these guys. It’s never fun when you have to have those meetings. It’s not the most exciting part of your job, but its part of what you have to do. You have to maintain a culture. You have to maintain a level of discipline within your program. Like I said, they will be fine. It was a mistake that anybody could have made in college, and we want to represent our school, our team better than that.”
On when he addressed the suspensions with the team …
“They knew this morning. Nothing was a surprise to any of them. There was no surprise.”
On if the Auburn game is enough to snap them back to reality …
“I think the game was enough. If you are a competitor and watch that game and see how we played, you are certainly embarrassed by the effort, and embarrassed by how we represented our program, our school, and our state. That should snap us back to attention. I hope we will play with a lot more focused and disciplined effort on Wednesday night in Knoxville.”
On the preparing the team for the stretch of tough opponents coming up …
“If we don’t correct what we did at Auburn, for Tennessee, it will be the same result. Tennessee plays as hard as Auburn. They have a physical four man (Grant Williams). We couldn’t guard Desean Murray, and Grant Williams is just as good if not better than Desean Murray. It is the same deal. If we don’t improve in some areas, then it is going to be tough going to be tough sledding Wednesday night.”
On having early film session (Monday at 6 p.m.) …
“I am a morning guy so I like to do things in the morning if possible. The reason we did it this morning was just to flush that out so we could move forward and focus on Tennessee as quickly as possible. We were off yesterday because of the off-day.”