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Vanderbilt suspends Festus Ezeli for most of November


Mike Miller

Vanderbilt’s NBA-ready trio of John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor and Festus Ezeli won’t be on full display until late November – just in time for Xavier on Nov. 28.

The school announced Monday that Ezeli, a 6-10 center, has been suspended for the Commodores’ first six games for accepting improper benefits. He was offered a meal and a hotel room by a Vandy alumnus. The school then self-reported the violation.

“I am very sorry and would never want to jeopardize my college career over such a petty thing as a meal or a hotel room,” Ezeli said. “I would have been able to afford those things myself. I have always tried to do the right thing; I should have known better and am embarrassed that my mistake could affect my team.”

That rules him out of the opener against Oregon, more home games against Cleveland State, Bucknell and Monmouth and the Legends Classic against N.C. State and the Texas-Oregon State winner. Going unbeaten through that stretch is expected, but one loss is possible.

And it sets up an intriguing showdown with the Musketeers – and not just for the Top 25 matchup.

Xavier center Kenny Frease was suspended indefinitely for “not fulfilling all the responsibilities of a Xavier basketball player,” the school announced Friday. Coach Chris Mack says he won’t reinstate Frease until “he proves to me that he wants to be a part of our team.”

So if Xavier will be Ezeli’s first game, what are the odds Frease is reinstated by then? I’m going with 85 percent, especially since it’s the Musketeers’ first real challenge.

But it’s hard to imagine either player’s game will be overly impressive right then.

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