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Missouri Point Guard Pleads Guilty

April 22, 2003

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri basketball player Ricky Clemons, accused of choking a woman and holding her against her will at his apartment, pleaded guilty Monday to a pair of lesser counts and was suspended from the team for one year.

The 20-year-old point guard, who faced trail April 29 on an original charge of felony second-degree domestic assault, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault and false imprisonment.

Prosecutor Kevin Crane plans to recommend at a sentencing hearing June 23 that Clemons receive two years of probation and a suspended one-year jail term on the assault charge, and 90 days behind bars on the false-imprisonment count.

Later Monday, Missouri suspended Clemons from competition for the 2003-04 season. Mike Alden, Missouri’s athletic director, said in a statement that the school would honor Clemons scholarship, ``provided he continues to progress toward his degree and meets his academic and social responsibilities.″

In the statement, Tigers’ coach Quin Snyder said, ``As we have maintained all along, we would await the outcome of the judicial process until taking further action in this situation.″

Sam Fleury, a spokesman for the program, said Monday’s suspension would not end Clemons’ association with the team because he would still have a year of eligibility remaining after sitting out next season.

``There’s still time on his clock,″ Fleury said.

Crane said he had discussions with Clemons’ defense attorneys and the victim before agreeing to the plea.

``I made it clear that if Clemons is going to plead to a misdemeanor, I wanted the jail time,″ Crane said. ``I feel like we’ve served justice and met the interest of the victim,″ who ultimately wants the sentence to bar Clemons from having future contact with her.

Clemons’ attorney, Wally Bley, reached Monday night at his home in Columbia, declined comment.

In 32 starts last season, Clemons averaged 14.2 points _ third-best on the team _ and a team-best 3.8 assists. He shot 38 percent, including 34 percent from 3-point range. Clemons also led the Tigers with 49 steals.

The junior college transfer was supposed to be the point guard Missouri sorely lacked. But he struggled down the stretch with turnovers and shot just 10-of-47 (21.3 percent) in his last five games. He was 2-of-15 in a loss to Marquette in the NCAA tournament.

Jessica Bunge, 20, of St. Clair, alleged Clemons pushed her down, bloodied her nose and choked her the night of Jan. 16 after she refused to watch the movie ``Roots″ with him. Clemons was arrested the next day and was suspended from the team for one game.

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