UNLV BASKETBALL:

Tre’Von Willis reaches plea agreement, suspended at least three games

Kruger: ‘The program’s been damaged by Tre’s actions’

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Justin M. Bowen

UNLV star senior guard Tre’Von Willis meets with the media Tuesday at the Thomas & Mack Center to discuss his plea agreement involving his June 29 arrest.

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010 | 7 p.m.

Tre'Von Willis Meets With Media

UNLV star senior guard Tre'Von Willis meets with the media Tuesday at the Thomas & Mack Center to discuss his plea agreement involving his June 29 arrest. Launch slideshow »

On Tuesday afternoon, speaking publicly for the first time since his June 29 arrest, UNLV senior guard Tre'Von Willis offered up his story of what happened that night at the Henderson apartment of 28-year-old Skye Sanders.

His story was vastly different from hers, and the "he said, she said" case had been put to rest Tuesday morning with Willis reaching a plea agreement, pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery.

"I just feel awful about the last few months and the events that have taken place. I just made a mistake," he said after offering up his apologies. "I originally agreed to go over to the young lady's house, she had promised me a little bit of money. I went over there, started to argue a little bit, and from then, I grabbed her purse off of the night stand.

"That's when she tried to grab the purse from me. That's when I grabbed her hand, and I knew it was wrong. I know better. From there, I dumped the contents of the purse onto the bed and there was no money in it. Then I exited the apartment."

Sanders accused Willis of choking her, and the Fresno, Calif., native was arraigned on Aug. 3 and charged with one felony count of battery constituting domestic violence-strangulation and a misdemeanor charge of coercion.

The deal that was struck will force him to pay a $340 fine, serve 100 hours of community service within the next year, undergo 90 minutes of domestic-violence counseling per week for the next 26 weeks and have no contact whatsoever with Sanders. He also was given a suspended 90-day jail sentence, adding incentive for him to steer clear of trouble.

Kruger said that all fees for the services of attorney Steven Wolfson must be handled by Willis.

"No choking took place," Willis said while addressing the local media on the floor of the Thomas & Mack Center. "What I said happened, happened. That's all I can say about that."

The punishment everyone will be talking about the most moving forward, however, is the one from UNLV coach Lon Kruger, who said that his leading scorer from a year ago will be suspended for "at least" the first three games of the 2010-11 season.

That stretch will include home exhibitions against Grand Canyon College on Nov. 2 and Washburn on Nov. 9, then the regular season opener at the Mack against UC Riverside on Nov. 12.

The earliest he could be eligible to suit up would be on Nov. 17 at home against Southeastern Louisiana.

Willis earlier in the day put on his UNLV uniform for team pictures, and will be participating in practices, starting with the FirstLook event held Oct. 15 on the Rebels' home floor.

"He'll be held to a very high standard, and based on how he conducts himself over the next six to eight weeks, before the start of the season, we'll see if (the suspension) goes beyond 10 percent (of the season)," Kruger said. "First three games was what that amounts to and, again, it could be more depending on what happens."

Traversing the non-conference schedule will be much easier, obviously, if Willis complies with the expectations Kruger has of him in the coming months, as the suspension could end before a key home game on Nov. 20 against Wisconsin and a Thanksgiving weekend trip to Anaheim, Calif., for the 76 Classic.

The three-game punishment was decided upon as a result of research done by Eric Toliver, who is UNLV's senior associate athletic director in charge of compliance. He found that it was the average punishment for athletes dealing with misdemeanor charges.

"It's tremendously embarrassing, but this is the bed I made, and I've got to sleep in it," Willis added. "I don't think I can be sorry enough. There hasn't been a lot of good news for me the last couple of months, so I think at this time, I'd like to move forward and kind of get over this process.

"There's a lot of basketball everywhere, but as far as me being a part of this UNLV team, being a part of this program that I love, it was tough. I've thought about everything, thought about all of the options. At the end of the day, I wanted to stay here and play this season for us. I felt like I owed it to our coaches, my teammates. Me and Kendall (Wallace) have been here the longest now, so I feel like I still owe them a piece of me."

Willis's actions provided the biggest bruise during an offseason that was far from stellar for the program.

First came the end of senior forward Matt Shaw's career, thanks to a one-year NCAA suspension following a failed drug test at the NCAA tournament in Oklahoma City back in March.

Willis's arrest was next, leaving his status with the team in limbo for his senior season.

The latest blow was not of the disciplinary variety, but came earlier this month when senior back-up guard Kendall Wallace, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He'll redshirt this season and be back for a final time in the 2011-12 season.

Wallace and Shaw will be missed for their 3-point marksmanship. The duo combined to hit 87 of the team's 231 treys a year ago, including Shaw's team-leading 45 percent accuracy from deep.

But the loss of Willis could have been crippling.

A first team All-Mountain West Conference performer, he led the Rebels with 17.2 points per game as a junior, adding 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists on the side. He also pushed the program to its third NCAA tournament appearance in four years, and with several key returners this season, expectations are higher than they have been at any point in Kruger's tenure, which is beginning its seventh season.

"The standard for everyone goes up when one team member acts like Tre has, and we're all on a shorter leash," Kruger said. "The program's been damaged by Tre's actions. He understands that, his teammates understand that, and when you do something like that, you pay a price."

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  1. Glad to see this situation come to an end.
    Go Rebels!

  2. That means Marshall and Hawkins will both be starting now.

  3. How come we haven't heard anything about the Hines visit to vegas?

  4. Toby,

    Talked to him. Pretty non-descript. Sounded like a good visit, but no commitment or anything. Has three more set up before he'll announce in mid-October -- West Virginia, UCLA, UConn.

  5. Keep your head up Tre', learn from this experience and move on with your life. We are all supporting you and know that you will bounce back from this to have an excellent senior year on the basketball court.

  6. Quit messing around with troubled people. Glad it finally got all resolved, and we'll see Tre after the opener hopefully.

  7. At least it's only those 3 games.

    His facial expressions crack me up in those pictures. haha

  8. Thanks Ryan, sounded like he was pretty interested, thought you might know some more.

  9. He hasn't really tipped his cap much. Something tells me a whole lot won't be known until he announces. Everything he said to me was pretty much the same that every recruit says after a visit :) Nothing in particular stood out, but he seemed like he enjoyed it just fine.

  10. When are these guys going to learn to stop acting like they are gangsta's? Grow up dude....you're in college playing basketball in a big-time program with talent that could pay you millions of dollars someday.....quit messing around with the wrong crowd.

    I don't understand why this is so hard for these kids to do!

  11. Sounds like classic overcharging by the Clark County DA. I know this is a "sports story" but it's highly reflective of a problem in the DA's office. About a year or so ago, the DA lobbying the legislature to make Domestic Violence "with strangulation" a felony. Sounds great, right? But essentially it converted a misdemeanor offense into a Class C felony (on a scale of A to E) for any allegation that the neck has been touched in any way. There is no standard for what "strangulation" means. The DA lobbyist testified that they would NOT be using this new statute as a hammer but only in the rare situations when there was actual strangulation. This was not the case. The DA has charged Felony Domestic Violence is 100s of cases since its inception. Then, they "settle" the case for Misdemeanor Domestic Violence, which at worst should have been the charge from the onset. Domestic Violence is not a joke, its a serious matter, but the abuse of the charging is endemic of the abuse of this DAs office. Don't know if Tre'Von is guilty or not, but he was likely charged wrong. His lawyer didn't challenge it, but this particular lawyer is not known for really challenging the DA on any level. This "plea" on its face, given Tre'Von's comments appears to be a dump job which has tarnished UNLV and this young man. Perhaps this should have been a case where he took it to trial to clear his name. As is, everyone loses except the lawyer who collects his fee...

  12. Congrats, Tre'von, as a Rebel Fan I am proud of you having grown up and apologised. The 100 hours of community service within the next year and 90 minutes of domestic violence counseling per week for the next 26 weeks are, in my humble opinion, an opportuity to prove to the rest of society, that you have become a responsible adult and willing to close that chapter of your personal history. I know you can make it.

  13. Counting exhibition games is laughable. I'm suprised a man of Kruger's character would do something like that. The suspension should be at least 3 games that count, maybe more.
    I'm happy that this has been settled before the season, so it can finally be put in the past (but probably not by opposing fans). I'm also glad that Tre' will be a part of this team this year, he can take over a game and a legit MWC POY candidate. Let's hope the new (and hopefully improved returning) bigs establish some low post threats to open it up for our perimeter players.

  14. It sounds to me like a case of DA limelight seeking. It's sad when our attorney general's and DA's have become nothing more than politicians, always looking for an angle. I believe what Tre' says, that there was no strangulation, the whole story seems fishy.
    It's nice to see Tre' accept the consequences of his actions and apologize. It will be interesting to see how coach K handles the suspension.

  15. Keep your head up Tre....eff MG and Homer. Uninformed comments....good stuff.

  16. Hey Homer, how's all that hope and changey workin' out for ya? LMAO. LOSER.