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Rutgers suspends freshman Corey Sanders

Corey Sanders

Rutgers guard Corey Sanders (3) reacts to play late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Piscataway, N.J. Iowa won 90-76. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)


PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers star freshman Corey Sanders has been suspended from basketball activities for two weeks for a violation of team rules, coach Eddie Jordan said in a statement released by the school.

Sanders will miss Rutgers’ next four games.

“Although I am disappointed to announce this suspension, I believe that it will serve as a valuable learning experience for Corey,” Jordan said Monday. “The team will continue to work hard in his absence and looks forward to his return.”

Rutgers’ next game is Tuesday night at Illinois. With big men Deshawn Freeman, Shaq Doorson and Ibrahima Diallo out for the season with injury, the Scarlet Knights were down to eight scholarship players prior to Sanders’ suspension.

Sanders has been one of the few bright spots in a season of struggles for Rutgers (6-19, 0-12). Sanders ranks first among freshmen in the Big Ten in points (16.2) and steals (1.6) per game and is second in assists (4.1).

The two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week had his eye on the Big Ten freshman of the year award.

“If they go by numbers-wise there’s no reason I shouldn’t be Big Ten freshman of the year, and that’s an accolade I want,” Sanders said after pouring in a team high 23-points in a 79-69 loss to Ohio State on Saturday night. “If I don’t get it I’m not going to cry about it. I know my fans are going to be upset. That would sit with me a little bit if I don’t win that award . ... I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about I need to win freshman of the year or freshman of the week. If it comes it comes. .When it comes, though, it feels good. It feels like it’s paying off.”

While Rutgers won’t make the NCAA Tournament for the 25th straight season, it had something to look forward to in Sanders. He’s the program’s most promising freshman since Quincy Douby, who left Rutgers after his junior year for the NBA and was picked in the first round by the Sacramento Kings.

Douby was sitting courtside for the Ohio State game Saturday.

“He’s a stud,” Douby said. “In my opinion he’s actually a better freshman than I was.”

Statistically, Douby’s right. Douby averaged 12.5 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists as a freshman in 2003-04, all of which Sanders has surpassed.

However, Douby’s team success was much greater. Rutgers went 20-13 and 7-9 in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights made it to the NIT finals, losing to Michigan 62-55.

“I had a better team around me, so I didn’t have to do as much as he’s doing,” Douby said. “My junior year (I did) - but I already had two seasons before I put everything on my shoulders. He’s doing it as a freshman, and he’s doing a good job so far, but he’s just got to continue to learn, continue to be that leader and take the bumps and bruises.”

The latest speed bump marks the second time Sanders has been suspended this season. Sanders sat out the opener against Rutgers-Newark for a self-imposed suspension by Rutgers for participating in a non-sanctioned basketball event last summer.

This suspension comes when Rutgers is desperately in need of a win. The Scarlet Knights have a 27 game losing streak in the conference dating back to last season.

When Sanders returns, Rutgers will host Michigan State before closing out the regular season against Minnesota.