Sindarius Thornwell was arrested in May for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license, but that has nothing to do with his current suspension, sources close to the situation told The State on Tuesday evening.
The reason for the suspension hasn’t been made public, but Thornwell’s expected to miss the remainder of South Carolina’s non-conference season. That would make the suspension six games in total, but he would be reinstated for the entire 18-game SEC schedule.
Thornwell was arrested on May 22 after an officer observed him driving erratically on Knox Abbott Drive in Cayce. An incident report from Cayce Public Safety said upon approaching the vehicle, the officer smelled marijuana and discovered Thornwell’s license had been suspended since May 6, 2015, due to failure to pay two traffic tickets.
Thornwell was arrested and the officer later found two “blunts” made of what he suspected to be marijuana in the car. Thornwell paid a fine for the offense.
The incident report isn’t available in the South Carolina judicial department online database of past arrests.
Thornwell was the Gamecocks’ leading scorer and rebounder during a 7-0 start before being indefinitely suspended on Dec. 4 for a violation of athletic department policy. USC won the next game without him and rose to No. 16 in the Associated Press Top 25, but the Gamecocks lost their first game on Monday, their second game without Thornwell.
Thornwell, like he did for the team’s previous win, was allowed to practice, travel and sit on the bench during the game.
Coach Frank Martin wouldn’t name the reason for the suspension, but made it clear Thornwell would return this season. Calling the offense a “mental mistake,” Martin said he didn’t know when Thornwell would return because if he did know, the announcement of the suspension wouldn’t have said what it said.
“At the end of the day, we all fall under one umbrella, which is the University of South Carolina,” Martin said. “We all have to conduct and act and follow the laws and the rules that have been created by this institution. And when they’re not, you don’t play favorites because somebody’s a good player and somebody’s a lesser player.”
A team spokesperson said there has been no change in Thornwell’s status and didn’t know if there would be any change before the next game. The Gamecocks are at USF on Saturday, then will host Clemson on Dec. 21 and Lander on Dec. 27 before finishing their non-conference slate at Memphis on Dec. 30.
USC begins the SEC season at Georgia on Jan. 4.
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