Gophers' Joseph leaves program

  • Article by: MYRON P. MEDCALF , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 4, 2011 - 11:43 PM

The junior guard was suspended for the first six games this season; this time, he's gone for good and transferring.

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After a loss at Michigan State on Friday, Gophers junior guard Devoe Joseph informed the team he'd decided to transfer to another school. On Tuesday, he officially left the program. Devoe Joseph (left)

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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In 2008, Devoe Joseph anchored new Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith's first recruiting class. Smith spoke highly of Joseph, a former Canadian national prep player of the year, and his potential before he arrived.

Midway through his junior season, however, the combo guard is gone.

After Minnesota's loss at Michigan State on Friday, Joseph informed the team he'd decided to transfer to another school.

When he spoke to reporters Monday, Smith said Joseph might return but didn't go into detail.

Smith said Joseph, who was suspended for the first six games of the season, had offcourt issues and suggested he might spend some time away from the team but never said anything about a split from the program.

"Devoe wasn't at practice for the last couple of days but that's the only issues that we've had so far," Smith said then. "He's working on some things he's got to work on. ... It could be [long-term]."

By Tuesday, however, he'd officially left the Gophers.

"No [I didn't see it coming] and that's all I'm saying about it," Smith said after his team's 67-63 victory over Indiana on Tuesday.

Joseph's mother, Connie, told the Star Tribune on Tuesday morning that her son made his decision after pondering a move earlier this season. After the Michigan State loss Friday, he told his mother he wanted to transfer.

Connie Joseph arrived in Minneapolis on Tuesday to go with her son to pick up his official release papers.

"The decision to transfer, it's a difficult decision," she said during a phone call Tuesday. "It's not a good situation. ... It's not something that's taken lightly and it's a difficult thing to do. Having said that, it's something that Devoe has [decided to do]."

Joseph's mother wouldn't discuss her son's reasons for leaving the program.

The Gophers have been here before. Top recruit Royce White quit the team last season. Al Nolen missed the second half of last year because of academic issues. And Trevor Mbakwe was sidelined all of last season because of a since-resolved legal situation.

Joseph's sudden departure is probably the most surprising transfer in Smith's tenure. Three other players have transferred within the past two seasons.

He was the star of the program after earning all-Big Ten tournament honors in March.

Even Connie Joseph said she's shocked by everything that's transpired in recent days.

"I'm extremely, extremely surprised ... really disappointed," said Connie Joseph, who sobbed briefly while discussing her son's situation. "Devoe had dreams of playing for the Gophers."

Nolen said the loss of Joseph sapped the team emotionally. After Tuesday's game, Nolen said, "I definitely know it was a different feeling going into the locker room and not seeing him there."

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