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April 18, 2014

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Gaines booted by Michigan

Kevin Gaines' basketball career at Michigan lasted only one season. It ended Tuesday after his Labor Day arrest for drunken driving in a Detroit suburb.

Gaines, the ex-Clark High standout and Sun state player of the year in 1999, was dismissed by Wolverines coach Brian Ellerbe after the sophomore point guard and two freshman teammates were arrested at 3:15 a.m. Monday.

Police in Taylor, 20 miles southwest of Detroit, said Gaines was charged today with drunken driving, being a minor in possession of alcohol and disorderly intoxication. The freshmen, Avery Queen and Bernard Robinson Jr., were charged with being minors in possession of alcohol and disorderly intoxication.

Gaines and Queen are 19, Robinson 18.

Gaines' blood-alcohol level was measured at .17, well above Michigan's legal limit of .10, police said. Queen registered .15 and Robinson .09. All three were arrested on suspicion of disorderly intoxication and spent about 11 hours in jail.

The players were apprehended after police spotted the car weaving, then the men "engaged in horseplay" outside the car on Telegraph Road, one of the Detroit area's most-traveled streets. Gaines was driving a 1990 Ford owned by another teammate, and told police the trio was returning from a party.

Queen and Robinson were placed on team probation, but Gaines was dismissed for what Ellerbe called "a culmination of things that I will not elaborate on." Ellerbe said the decision was his, but that he had the full backing of Michigan's administration.

Attempts to contact Gaines were unsuccessful Tuesday, but he told the Detroit News, "I really feel bad. This is very disappointing. I don't know yet what I'm going to do."

Ellerbe said Gaines "wasn't surprised" by his dismissal on the eve of today's start of fall classes.

"Kevin has displayed continuous behavior in violation of team rules," Ellerbe said. "No one is happy about it. He's a young man. There are rules and regulations. We want to educate kids, but there's a line that has to be drawn."

Though Gaines will be allowed to keep his scholarship, he is expected to transfer. A Detroit radio station said he told friends he wants to transfer to UNLV and sit out this season, but no source was cited. Rebels coach Bill Bayno declined comment on Gaines.

"Gaines has been granted his release if he wants to use it," Ellerbe said. "We want him to make a decision that benefits him as an individual. We want Kevin to succeed in life."

Though wildly inconsistent at times, Gaines had a solid freshman year for the Wolverines. He started 28 games and averaged 11.7 points and 4.6 assists for a trouble-plagued 15-14 team. Gaines was chosen team co-MVP with freshman LaVell Blanchard, both part of Michigan's terrific 1999 recruiting class. Only two members of that six-man class remain.

Even before Monday's incident, Gaines' Michigan career was dotted by controversy. Last November, he and two teammates were investigated for their alleged involvement in the theft of an electronic day planner from a female student. The student dropped the charges, but only after Ellerbe intervened -- for which the coach was roundly criticized.

Monday's arrests resulted from a bizarre episode, according to the police report.

Police spotted the 1990 Ford Tempo, owned by Michigan freshman Josh Moore and driven by Gaines weaving in traffic. After the car stopped in the right lane, the players got out and began to wrestle.

"All three were behind the car and in the roadway; they were engaged in horseplay," Taylor police chief Thomas Bonnor told the Detroit Free Press. "Several cars had to change lanes to avoid hitting these guys. We had to repeatedly give loud verbal commands for them to return to their vehicle."

Bonnor told the Detroit News that the players "were so drunk, they probably got lost."

Queen, from San Bernardino, Calif., could face bigger legal problems due to his involvement. He is serving a year's probation after pleading guilty to assault in June, the result of an incident last December at the Winchendon prep school in Massachusetts. He was charged with attacking another student with a belt.

Queen is also mentioned in the NCAA's pending case against UNLV. Bayno briefly recruited Queen, and UNLV self-reported to the NCAA last September that Bayno and assistant coach Max Good phoned Queen in the same week, a secondary violation. The school declared Queen ineligible for athletic competition, barred Bayno and Good from phoning any recruits for two weeks, and officially reprimanded both.

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