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LSU to hold Javonte Smart out of Vanderbilt game

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ORLANDO, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 25: Ja’vonte Smart #1 of the LSU Tigers drives during the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at HP Field House on November 25, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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LSU freshman Javonte Smart is being held out of the lineup for the Tigers on Saturday when they face Vanderbilt in their SEC regular-season finale.

After LSU head coach Will Wade was suspended indefinitely earlier this week amid the FBI’s college basketball corruption scandal for allegedly speaking with runner Christian Dawkins about a potential payment earlier this week, the Tigers are also holding out Smart as they cooperate with the NCAA.

Although not directly named in the alleged wiretap conversation, Wade appears to use his star freshman’s last name while discussing payment options with Dawkins.

“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade allegedly said to Dawkins. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”

A McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, Smart was a huge recruiting coup for Wade and the Tigers as he’s averaging 11.6 points per game during LSU’s resurgent season.

“Javonte Smart will be held from today’s game against Vanderbilt. This is done only in an abundance of caution and as a result of the lack of clarity provided regarding media reports and reported wiretaps involving head coach Will Wade,” LSU’s statement said on Saturday. “This decision does not suggest, in any way, wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing on Javonte’s part of his family. Javonte and his family have been fully cooperative and open with university officials.”

LSU should still be favored to take down a Vanderbilt team that is winless in the SEC this season. But this is a huge concern for the team going forward as they could be without their head coach and starting off-guard heading into the postseason. The Tigers have a chance to win the SEC outright with a win thanks to Tennessee’s loss at Auburn earlier in the day.