USC’s Chimezie Metu suspended one half for groin punch

USC forward Chimezie Metu reacts after the Trojans hit the go-ahead three-point basket in the Diamond Head Classic championship game against New Mexico State in Honolulu on Dec. 25.
(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

USC has suspended star junior forward Chimezie Metu for the first half of Thursday’s game at California after he was ejected for striking Washington State’s Carter Skaggs in the groin in Sunday night’s 89-71 win. Metu was also stripped of his captaincy and required to write an apology letter to Skaggs.

“I understand there is no place in the game of basketball for such an unsportsmanlike action,” Metu wrote in the letter.

The Pac-12 approved USC’s disciplinary actions and will take no further action.

Metu, who leads the Trojans scoring 17.8 points per game, was named a captain for the first time this year. Coach Andy Enfield said before the season Metu earned the honor by showing more leadership and maturity, but Enfield cautioned that Metu had to show it in games.


“You get caught up in the emotions and at that particular time in the game, you have to contain your emotions and hopefully do something to benefit the team and not hurt the team,” Enfield said.

“He has to have a maturity about him and a growth from last season to understand it’s different this year. Every time he shows up, people are going to be going hard at him.”

Metu was surprised to be named a captain. He didn’t vote for himself and didn’t see that as his role.

“It was a role that I wasn’t really shooting for,” Metu said in November. “Even though I don’t think of myself as being the leader of the team, the other guys do, so I have to step up.”


He has stepped up on the court, becoming the Trojans’ top offensive weapon with a diverse arsenal of ways to defeat a defense, including the addition of the three-point shot to his repertoire. He and senior point guard Jordan McLaughlin had been the foundation pieces for a USC squad that has been through a tumultuous season dealing with an FBI investigation off the court as well as inconsistency and injuries on the court. Metu and McLaughlin have been the only two players to start every game this season.

But that will change Thursday, with Metu sitting out the first 20 minutes of USC’s first conference road game. His flagrant-2 foul drew immediate ire on social media and from ESPN analyst Bill Walton, who quickly called for a suspension for Metu.

Last season, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks was assessed a flagrant-2 foul and ejected for a kick to the groin of Washington State forward Josh Hawkinson, but he received no additional punishment from Oregon or the conference.