St. John's guard D'Angelo Harrison, the third-leading scorer in the Big East, has been suspended for the rest of the season, the school announced on Friday.
Harrison will miss the Red Storm's final three regular-season games, the Big East tournament, and any further postseason games the team plays.
"I had a very productive meeting with D'Angelo yesterday," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said. "Naturally, with the player-coach relationship, I'm not going to speak to the particulars of the discussion. The good news is he wants to be a part of our program, and finish his collegiate playing career at St. John's. He's had a great career for us and has done some very positive things, but there are times as a coach where you have to send a message that you're acting in the best interests of a young person's future.
"It's just a coach's decision that it is in his best interests to take a timeout and get some distance from basketball. There wasn't one incident; it was something that needed to happen. I made the decision with both D'Angelo and our team's best interest at heart."
St. John's did not provide a reason for the suspension. Harrison was also suspended for one of the team's two preseason exhibition games back in November. St. John's did not officially explain that suspension either.
"I have to make decisions that are very difficult," Lavin said. "In the ideal world I don't want to lose a leading scorer in the home stretch of the season, but I owe it to the families of the kids I coach and the players themselves to try and get the best out of them. There are a whole range of methods you can use in coaching, and I used all of them. It's an endless search to try and get kids to maximize their ability. D'Angelo, like every other player in the program, is going to get that from me."
Harrison, a 6-foot-3 sophomore from Missouri City, Texas, was averaging 17.8 points per game, highest on the team. Earlier this month, he became the 48th player in St. John's history to score 1,000 career points -- and he did so in just 57 games, tying Daryll Hill as the eighth-fastest in school history.
But he was coming off one of his worst performances of the season, shooting 1 for 12 from the field in a 63-47 loss to then-No. 20 Pittsburgh last Sunday. Throughout the season, Harrison has displayed a propensity to react to officials when unhappy with calls or non-calls. And Lavin has left him on the bench for long stretches when unhappy with his play.
St. John's practices are closed to the media, so reporters aren't able to observe Harrison's behavior on the practice floor.
The absence of Harrison is a crippling blow to St. John's chances of making the NCAA tournament. The Red Storm (16-11, 8-7 Big East) were on the bubble -- the fifth team on the outside looking in, according to the latest version of ESPN.com's Bracketology.
"Coaching is a mystery. I wish I could project how we're going to play over the next couple of weeks. I can't make my primary focus only winning basketball games," Lavin said. "Winning is a byproduct of doing things the right way. There is a culture you create in a basketball program through standards and expectations that have to be met. Every kid is different, but there are certain criteria that are the same for everyone."