University of Missouri head coach Quin Snyder (right) announced Friday evening that the school released recruit Robert Whaley from the National Letter of Intent he signed this past fall. This announcement was made shortly after a mistrial was declared by a Michigan Judge late Friday in the youth's sexual assualt trial.
A 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward, Whaley averaged 17.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.2 blocks, 3.2 assists and 3.1 steals per game as junior at Benton Harbor (MI) High School. Whaley, who was academically ineligible at the start of his senior year, was averaging 18.2 points and 8.0 rebounds before being suspended from the team after he was indicted on this charge.
Berrien County Judge John Fields declared the mistrial after jurors told him they had deliberated nearly 20 hours without being able to reach a verdict. Whaley was accused of forcing a 13-year old girl to have sex with him this past Thanksgiving morning at his family's mobile home in Berrien County's Benton Township. Assistant prosecutor Caryn Hebets told a local radio station that decision on whether or not to retry Whaley should be made within two week.
Defense attorney Tat Parish said the case was "so strong for the defense, it's so much a "one person's word against another' ... The fact is that reasonable doubt in this case is shown by the mere fact that a jury of 12 people couldn't agree after this long and this hard and this fine an effort to try to agree." (Benton Harbor Herald-Palladium)
As a result of judge's ruling, Whaley was able to attend his high school graduation ceremonies Friday evening. Whaley was recruited by Michigan State, Michigan, Kentucky, Georgetown, Syracuse, Cincinnati and Connecticut before signing with the Big 12 school.
Snyder issued the following statement yesterday:
"This has been a difficult situation for all parties involved and we have been unwilling to comment on this matter due to the sensitive legal issues at stake. Our program and Robert have moved in different directions, and the conclusion of this trial will not alter our course. The University of Missouri believes that this will not be the optimal setting for Robert to pursue his development as a student, an athlete and a human being. We will continue to take an active interest in Robert's future to whatever degree we are able." The Tigers announced the signing of the following recruits for the upcoming season:
Jeffrey Ferguson, a 6-foot-10, 215-pound forward from Toronto who played on same team (Benton Harbor (MI) High School) as Robert Whaley
Duane John, a 6-foot-6, 195-pound forward from Toronto who prepped at Berskhire (FL) Academy this past year
Uche Okafor 6-foot-11-inch, 245-pound center from Anambra State, Nigeria who played the past two years at the College of Southern Idaho
Najeeb Echols, a 6-7, 220 pound small forward from Morgan Park High School in Chicago
The 2001-02 edition of the Tigers will see the return of sophomore guard Josh Kroenke. He missed virtually all of this past past season following a concussion suffered during preseason practice. Missouri has requested a medical redshirt for the hometown shooting guard. In other off-season news, the state governemnt approved the school's request for $35 million in bond appropriations for a new arena.