University of Missouri

Jakeenan Gant, Russell Woods suspended from Missouri basketball team

Missouri forwards Jakeenan Gant (left) and Russell Woods (right)
Missouri forwards Jakeenan Gant (left) and Russell Woods (right) AP

Forwards Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods were suspended from the Missouri men’s basketball team on Friday after both received citations for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Gant, a sophomore, and Woods, a junior, will miss Missouri’s game at Alabama on Saturday and their status with the program will be reevaluated next week, according to the MU athletic department.

Columbia Police Department detectives executed a search warrant Jan. 15 at the residence Gant and Woods share with two other men. The warrant was issued in connection with an armed home invasion robbery on Dec. 9 in Columbia.

Neither Gant nor Woods was the target of the robbery investigation, but detectives found two marijuana smoking devices in Gant’s bedroom and two more in Woods’ bedroom during the search. Gant and Woods both turned themselves in to Columbia police Thursday and were released on a signature summons. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor under Missouri statues.

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Mizzou athletics released a statement Friday afternoon:

“Student-athletes Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods were notified earlier today they have been suspended for tomorrow’s game at Alabama, per athletic department policy. Their status with the program will be reevaluated next week.”

Columbia police arrested one of the robbery suspects, Koran Ward, 19, who lives with Gant, Woods and another man. The search uncovered items stolen in the Dec. 9 armed robbery and Ward was arrested on suspicion of first-degree robbery and unlawful use of a weapon. His bond was set at $54,500, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Detectives also found marijuana or drug paraphernalia in the two other residents’ bedrooms.

Gant — a four-star prospect originally from Springfield, Ga., who was ranked No. 52 in the nation by Rivals when he signed with the Tigers — is averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds this season, which ranks seventh and fourth on the team, respectively. Woods, a Chicago native and junior college transfer from John A. Logan College, is averaging 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in his first season at Mizzou.

Together, Gant and Woods averaged 30 minutes per game. With both players unavailable at Alabama at 2 p.m. Saturday, the Tigers are left with only one scholarship reserve forward on the roster, D’Angelo Allen, who averages 2.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 9.2 minutes per game.

The suspensions might mean additional playing time for freshman walk-on Adam Wolf, who has only appeared in four games this season. He’s a 6-foot-7 forward from Beaver Dam, Wisc.

This is the third time Gant will be held out of action at Missouri. In Sept. 2014, Gant was suspended briefly along with Allen after both were charged with a peace disturbance, stemming from an altercation in downtown Columbia. Gant also missed the first nine games of his freshman season during an investigation into his eligibility.

Gant took part in a summer internship program at T3 Technologies in Georgia in 2014 and was paid for work not performed, an impermissible benefit under NCAA rules. Three other former Missouri student-athletes — Jordan Clarkson, Tony Criswell and Cam Biedscheid — also took part in the internship program during the previous summer, allegations that led to the basketball team’s self-imposed sanctions.

Mizzou athletics announced a one-year postseason ban, scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions among other penalties Jan. 13 and the NCAA’s final report, including possible additional penalties, is expected to be released this spring.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer

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