Lawyer says Tre'Von Willis will play

It is unclear whether Tre'Von Willis will play for UNLV this season. AP Photo/John Miller

Of course, the lawyer in question happens to be Tre'Von Willis' lawyer. And last time I checked, Tre'Von Willis' lawyer doesn't get to make UNLV hoops personnel decisions.

It might be easier for UNLV coach Lon Kruger if he did, though. Thanks to the date of Willis' preliminary hearing on a charge of domestic violence-strangulation -- a felony -- things could get awfully tricky for the Runnin' Rebels coach in the months to come.

Willis was arrested for the charge on June 29. His lawyer, Steven Wolfson, filed a not guilty plea Tuesday morning, adding the following on his way out of court:

After the brief hearing [Tuesday] morning, Wolfson asked for patience with the case and said "not all of the facts have come out."

"The police did a preliminary investigation and that is what is the basis of the charges," Wolfson said. "We're doing our own investigation and I'm confident that when all the facts and the truth comes out, that Tre'Von will play basketball this year for UNLV, have a great year, perhaps be the leading scorer again and have a great future."

That sounds great, right? The only problem is that Willis' court preliminary hearing date is set for Nov. 22. That lands right in the thick of the first portion of the college hoops season. Worse yet, it's just the preliminary hearing, which means there won't likely be any resolution on Willis' situation for weeks afterward.

It's a tricky situation. Most coaches would sit their players for even being charged with something this nefarious. Willis, after all, is facing a felony charge. But there's also an argument to be made that depriving Willis of his basketball career before the court hears the facts of his case is in essence punishing him before he's proven guilty.

The question for Kruger, who has remained mum on Willis' case thus far, is whether he wants to take that risk, or deal with that stigma, for the sake of having his leading scorer around the team during such a fraught time. It's worth thinking about. It's also hard to see Kruger bucking the college hoops trend in such blatant fashion. Willis' lawyer might have big ideas on the 2010-11 season, but until his coach delivers a similar vote of confidence, few else will.