ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Demetrius Walker was a starter on the New Mexico Lobos roster to open the season.
He is now done for at least the rest of the regular season as coach Steve Alford on Monday announced the 6-foot2 junior guard from Font a na , Calif., has been suspended indefinitely for a “violation of team rules.”
Walker was not at Monday’s practice in the Rudy Davalos Center. A team official said Walker is still a member of the team and would not be allowed to speak to the media on Monday about the suspension when the Journal requested to speak with Walker.
“I won’t say anymore about it,” Alford said. “I want to protect him obviously. It’s an indefinite suspension and we’ll just see how it plays out the rest of the year.”
Alford said the suspension is not related to an injury but would not say whether Walker will return to the team for the March 12-17 Mountain West Tournament. Walker will not make the road trip this week as the Lobos (25-4, 12-2 Mountain West) close the regular season at Nevada in Reno on Wednesday and at Air Force in Colorado Springs on Saturday.
Walker has missed the past four games since hurting his knee Feb. 13 at Fresno State, though he’s been healthy enough to play at least in the past two.
The Journal on Saturday asked Alford if freshman Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas had officially passed Walker on the depth chart and what it meant for Walker’s role with the team.
“Yeah, I think so,” Alford said of Thomas. “It doesn’t mean Demetrius can’t get back in there.”
Junior guard Kendall Williams, who said he is a close friend of Walker, said the team just learned of the suspension and is moving forward under the assumption Walker will not be back.
“Losing a teammate like that for me personally is tough and I think collectively we’re going to have to come together and try to move on,” Williams said.
He added, “Getting ready for Vegas, you have to lock in your mind. I don’t think I’d be telling the truth if you said you didn’t feel for D-Walk and that the team’s not going to feel it.”
Walker, whose midseason slump was well documented as he failed to hit one field goal in the month of January, has averaged 5.0 points, 1.2 rebounds in 23 games this season and has had 15 assists and 30 turnovers.