Joe Mauldin of Valley College, one of the top all-around players in the Western State Conference, was kicked off the Monarch basketball team last week for repeatedly missing practice.
Coach Jim Stephens said that Mauldin's failure to show for practice Feb. 1 was the final straw.
Mauldin, a highly touted quarterback who signed a letter of intent with Missouri Western on Feb. 3, missed three games and several practices earlier this season because of football recruiting. He did not have a legitimate excuse for missing the Feb. 1 practice, according to Stephens, who announced in November that he would step down from his coaching position at the end of the season.
"He just wasn't working out," Stephens said. "It was just something I had to do. There were too many ups and downs for the team with him. It was becoming too much of a distraction.
"I made a deal with him at the start of the season that he could miss practices and games if it was because of recruiting trips. But I felt that that was no longer the case, that he was taking advantage of the situation."
Mauldin, a former standout at San Fernando High, could not be reached for comment.
Mauldin, a 6-foot-2 guard, was averaging 16.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game. He also led WSC players in field-goal percentage at 64.0%.
He scored a season-high 37 points in a 96-82 victory over Canyons on Jan. 27, but was held to 10 points and did not play during the final 10 minutes of Valley's 56-50 victory over West L.A. three days later.
"I don't think he was too happy about that," Stephens said. "He's the type of player who wants to play every minute of every game. But I took him out to give him a rest and we were doing pretty well without him, so I didn't put him back in."
Although Valley (7-19, 2-5 in division play) is 0-3 since Mauldin's departure, Stephens says he does not regret his decision.
"We might not be as good a team without him," Stephens said. "But there were just too many uncertainties with him."