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May 18, 2012Octavius Ellis is no longer a member of the University of Cincinnati basketball program.
As of June he will almost certainly no longer be a student at the University of Cincinnati.
"Octavius didn't adhere to the standard of conduct I expect from members of our team," said Cronin. "I will work to help him find a fresh start at a new program because I do care very much for him as a person. I believe he can benefit from being in a new environment. That's likely what will help him the best to learn and mature from this."
Though the details are still being mined regarding last weekend's incident at Club PLAY UC Head Coach Mick Cronin believed he had more than enough to responsibly dismiss the former Class of 2011 signing.
According to the Police Incident Report filed Sunday, bouncer Brian McClucas stated that "an unknown suspect caused him physical harm by punching him in the face."
The event occured around 2:15 AM Sunday morning. After the police completed their investigation UC released a simplistic press release and took no questions on the matter.
Ellis was not the only UC Bearcat basketball player in attendance that night. Perhaps because he was heavily involved in the extremely visible Xavier-UC basketball brawl last December Ellis suffered the greatest punishment.
The catastrophic childhood of Ellis escapes the barriers of imagination. A witness to his own mother's shooting death Ellis carries with him unfathomable demons that no human being should endure.
College basketball just is not important when placed up against this scenario.
And yet Coach Cronin and Octavius hoped it would be the saving grace. When Octavius was offered he said he looked forward to UC because the coaches appeared to be the second family he so coveted.
On his visit Ellis met with Justin Jackson, Darnell Wilks, and others.
Octavius Ellis could have played for UC...eventually. He had impressive length, lovely hops, and a blossoming mid-range game.
Mick Cronin loved his upside but often admitted Ellis lacked countless fundamentals most players his age honed years ago.
With quality instruction and months in the weight room Ellis just might have cracked into the rotation by his third season. It would have been tough with young players like Shaq Thomas and Titus Rubles likely to have vaulted the redshirt freshman over the fall practices.
Against their better interest Coach Cronin did inject Ellis into three November games. He scored six points against Alabama State opening night.
A future within the program was conceivable.
When one person shoulders the blame from a group fight it begs certain questions.
Did anyone else skate free under cover of the dismissal? Was Octavius the only one to blame? Did University of Cincinnati make the astute, prudent decision or simply remove the weakest player and duck for cover?
Since the University of Cincinnati Athletics Department elected not to hold a press conference speculation will prevail throughout the region.
Worse rash, ill-informed judgements are being made nationwide by passive observers. Remember how infuriating it was to see replays of Yancy Gates punching Kenny Frease every single game Cincinnati played in March?
Such events tend to define a basketball program. If a pattern forms, and it still has not, stigmas can be impossible to detach.
UNLV basketball still gets battered despite parting ways with Jerry Tarkanian twenty years ago. Fair or unfair the name John Calipari still conjures up memories of vacated Final Four appearances. And he won the national title.
Mick Cronin has never recruited illegally and generally makes the city of Cincinnati very proud. Until recently the hard-nosed coach spent no energy developing his public persona, invested nothing in shaping the image of the program beyond the play on the court.
Until December '11 his only detractors complained about losses not grade problems or scandals or fighting. Still he must be very careful on the recruiting trail the next few years.
Octavius Ellis was a bad seed before Mick Cronin found him.
He was incredibly lazy, often confronted officials, and requested students be removed from the cheering section for a mythical laser pointer aimed at his eye.
His caretaking grandmother readily admitted Ellis struggled to control his temper.
And Coach Cronin decided to take a chance, a chance that ultimately backfired. If ever there was a time to take fewer chances on athletes who could cause the program irreversible harm it is now.
The Cincinnati Bearcats advanced to the Big East Championship final and the Sweet 16 in 2011-2012. Many players are returning and the future looks bright on the court.
Just because someone invented the phrase, 'Winning at all costs' don't test the limits of the proverb.