<
>

USC coach Andy Enfield frustrated by absence of De'Anthony Melton

LOS ANGELES -- USC men's basketball coach Andy Enfield is growing frustrated by the continued absence of sophomore guard De'Anthony Melton, who has been suspended since Nov. 10, as the school investigates what it has deemed "a potential issue regarding eligibility."

"De'Anthony Melton did nothing wrong," Enfield said, following No. 25 USC's 85-83 loss to Oklahoma at Staples Center on Friday night.

Federal prosecutors have alleged someone close to Melton took $5,000 with the understanding they would steer him toward an agent and financial advisor.

Earlier this week, Enfield said he was hopeful Melton would be available to play against the Sooners.

"I was hoping he would be back before tonight, a long time ago, but he hasn't been," Enfield said. "So once again, I don't know the information. I'm kept out of it, and so I literally know maybe a little more than you, but not much more. So we're all hopeful, and we could have used him the last few games."

Asked what's missing from his team, which has lost three straight games after a 4-0 start, Enfield was quick to point to Melton.

"De'Anthony Melton means a lot to this team," he said. "We don't win 26 games without him last year."

Enfield maintains he understands why he's been largely kept in the dark on the progress of the investigation, but it is clearly starting to wear on him.

"I'm the head coach of a program and there's some issues with our players, so I understand why that is," he said. "I'm not an attorney, but I respect the decision-makers at USC. I respect all the hours the attorneys put in and our compliance staff.

"So I'm very appreciative of all the work they're doing to try to get [Melton] on the court."

Melton's absence comes after USC assistant Tony Bland was one of four assistant coaches in college basketball accused of accepting bribes to steer players toward agents, financial advisers and apparel companies, as part of an FBI investigation. Bland was arrested in October and pleaded not guilty in November to four charges relating to bribery and wire fraud.

Bland is alleged to have taken at least $13,000 in bribe money.