LSU clears freshman guard Javonte Smart to play during NCAA, university inquiry

LSU freshman Javonte Smart has been cleared to return to the court ahead of the Tigers' SEC Tournament opening game Friday against Florida, the school announced Friday morning. 

Smart was held out of LSU's regular-season finale Saturday against Vanderbilt after media reports revealed that LSU coach Will Wade was caught on a wiretap discussing an "offer" to a perspective recruit with ex-middleman Christian Dawkins, who was recently convicted for his role in the college basketball scandal. The recruit in question is believed to be Smart.

Wade was suspended for the victory vs. the Commordores, which allowed the Tigers to clinch the SEC regular-season title outright -- as was Smart.

From the statement: 

"LSU has cleared freshman Javonte Smart for today's game against the University of Florida in the SEC men's basketball tournament. Smart has fully cooperated and participated in a joint inquiry with LSU and the NCAA resulting from reports of wiretapped conversations purportedly involving head coach Will Wade.

"Smart was held out of the regular season finale against Vanderbilt out of an abundance of caution in cooperation with the NCAA. Though the inquiry is not closed, after multiple additional interviews, there has been no wrongdoing identified to date. As a result, and because of his full cooperation and transparency in this matter, Smart has been cleared by university officials for play on Friday."

Wade on the other hand remains indefinitely suspended. Asked to cooperate with the LSU and NCAA inquiry, the Tigers coach declined this week. Wade said he does not intend to discuss the case or anything related to it with the feds or LSU until the federal probe is complete, though Thursday he issued a statement pleading LSU officials to reinstate him despite not cooperating. 

Smart's return is a boon for an LSU team that is on track to be a top-two seed in the NCAA Tournament. The freshman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana is averaging 11.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game for the ninth-ranked Tigers. 

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