Former Wichita State basketball player Cleanthony Early was robbed and shot after leaving a Queens strip club Wednesday.
Early, 24, forward for the New York Knicks, was shot in the right knee after a reported robbery.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has been in touch with Early’s agent.
“Our hearts are with Cleanthony on this difficult day,” Marshall said in a news release. “Because he lost his cell phone in the robbery, he has been unable to receive texts or calls, but I reached out to him this morning through his business manager and let him know that he and his family are in my prayers. We are relieved to hear reports that he is in stable condition, and we wish him a speedy recovery.”
Never miss a local story.
Kevin DeVantier, who coached Early in junior college, was driving to New York on Wednesday afternoon to see him in the hospital. He talked to Sandra Glover, Early’s mother, who told him her son was in stable condition. A former Sullivan teammate was at the hospital with Early, DeVantier said.
Early was in an Uber cab at around 4:30 a.m. outside CityScapes in Queens when his vehicle was surrounded by at least two other cars and as many as six men got out, the law enforcement officials said.
Two men with semi-automatic pistols, according to the New York Daily News, pulled Early from the car and took cash, gold caps on his teeth and two necklaces. He was shot in the right kneecap, the officials said. The men drove off.
They also robbed the driver, according to the Daily News.
“We are aware of what occurred with Cleanthony Early this morning and are relieved that he is not in a life-threatening situation,” the Knicks said in a statement. “We will not comment any further until we receive more information.”
Police were searching for suspects and trying to determine if it was a carefully planned attack or a spur-of-the-moment hit.
Early, who played two seasons with Wichita State, was picked in the second round of the NBA Draft in 2014. He grew up in the Bronx before moving upstate to Middletown, N.Y.
On Tuesday, Early played 29 seconds in a 108-96 win over Detroit at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks play at Chicago on Friday.
Early, a 6-foot-8 forward, has played in 10 games with the Knicks this season and averages 0.7 points. He also played in two games for the Westchester (N.Y.) Knicks of the NBA Development League.
Early missed two months of the 2014-15 season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the same one injured in Wednesday’s shooting.
At WSU, he averaged 15.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in two seasons (2012-14) after transferring from Sullivan County (N.Y.) Community College. He earned consensus All-American honors as a senior and a spot on the NCAA All-Tournament team in 2013.
The theft comes about 10 days after Knicks forward Derrick Williams was robbed of $617,000 in jewelry from his home. He had taken home two women from a Manhattan club. Police are still looking for suspects.
Williams has declined to comment on the theft, but the case raised questions about whether NBA players should have a curfew like other professional sports. In April, Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland, his girlfriend and another woman were stabbed following a late-night argument on the street near a Manhattan nightclub.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher was asked about the policy at a news conference after Williams was robbed.
“I don’t really have to get into our policies of what you can and can’t do,” he told reporters last week. “We don’t have a curfew like in the NFL or other sports do on certain nights. It’s an unfortunate incident.”
Contributing: Associated Press