De’Anthony Melton has been sidelined for the first 14 games of USC’s up-and-down season, relegated to wearing a sweatsuit on the bench because of his connection to the federal investigation of bribery in college basketball.
But the sophomore’s exile could end soon.
In an email to The Times, Melton’s attorney, Vicki I. Podberesky, expressed optimism the matter is moving toward a resolution.
“USC has a few things they want to wrap up in their investigation,” she said. “I hope that by next week they will have concluded their investigation and submitted their findings to the NCAA.”
Podberesky said getting clearance from the NCAA could take “at least” an additional week.
USC has held Melton out of each game this season as a precaution after federal prosecutors alleged a close family friend, David Elliott, accepted $5,000 to steer Melton to a would-be agent and financial advisor. Elliott’s attorney has repeatedly denied his client accepted any money or otherwise violated NCAA rules.
Melton, who has been interviewed by USC twice and given the school bank statements and cellphone data, hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.
USC declared Melton ineligible earlier this month and barred him from traveling with the team after receiving unspecified new information. At USC’s request, Elliott recently turned over credit card statements and receipts from travels with Melton last summer.
The probe has kept Melton, USC’s best defender and a key part of its backcourt rotation, off the court at a time when its defense is scuffling. After Friday’s 88-81 loss to Washington in the Pac-12 opener, USC coach Andy Enfield blasted his team’s defensive effort, saying he was “very disappointed” and players needed to “look in the mirror” in advance of Sunday’s game against Washington State.
Enfield didn’t have new information about a timeline for Melton’s clearance.
Another guard, redshirt sophomore Derryck Thornton, could be sidelined for as many as two more weeks because of injury.
Junior Bennie Boatwright didn’t hesitate when discussing the impact of Melton and Thornton returning: “That’ll be big.”
VS. WASHINGTON STATE
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Galen Center
On the air: TV: ESPN2; Radio: TuneIn
Update: Washington State (8-5), picked to finish last in the Pac-12, opened conference play with a 96-82 loss at UCLA. ... USC junior Chimezie Metu scored a game-high 26 points in the Trojans' loss to Washington on Friday to eclipse 1,000 points in his career. ... Both defenses are struggling: USC ranks 224th in the country in points allowed and Washington State is 235th.