New Mexico junior guard Demetrius Walker has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules, head coach Steve Alford announced Monday at his weekly press conference.
Alford did not disclose the details that led to the suspension, but it did not have anything to do with Walker’s health — Walker missed the last four games with a knee injury.
UNM has two more regular-season games — Wednesday at Nevada and Saturday at Air Force — before the Mountain West Conference tournament March 12-16 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
“I won’t say more about it,” Alford said. “I want to protect him, obviously, but it’s an indefinite suspension and we’ll just see how it plays out the rest of the year.”
Walker played 23 games this season. He started the first four games of the season when UNM experimented with a four-guard set, but he was moved to the bench to allow a true power forward to play in that starting spot. Since then, senior forward Chad Adams and junior forward Cameron Bairstow started in that position.
Walker has averaged five points per game with a .353 shooting percentage.
Alford said he does not like to lose any player because it affects the team’s depth. Freshman Cleveland Thomas had already moved ahead of Walker in the rotation because of Walker’s knee injury.
Thomas will maintain that role, the coach said.
“He’s doing a terrific job,” Alford said of Thomas. “We have to be able to do more minutes that way. I think he’s earned it. He’s done a lot of good things for us and he’s going to be a big part of our future. This is a good time of year for him to gain that kind of experience.”
Junior guard Kendall Williams said he is close friends with Walker, and he recognizes how tough a year Walker had. The team must come together and move on, Williams said.
“We’ve dealt with different forms of adversity, but this is the first time something like this has obviously happened,” he said. “We have to (move on). It’s something we definitely need to do especially this week preparing for Vegas. … I don’t think you’d be telling the truth if you didn’t feel for D-Walk and the team’s not going to feel it.”