Rakym Felder is coming back to the University of South Carolina.
He just won’t be in a Gamecocks basketball uniform anytime soon.
USC coach Frank Martin said Friday that the suspended guard is expected to enroll again at the school, but Felder won’t be participating for this season’s team.
“Rakym and I have gotten to a good place,” Martin said during a teleconference with reporters. “My bosses and I have had that conversation. Everyone is on board with him becoming a part of our school again, starting here in January. That date has not been set.
“I have made the decision that Rakym will not play this year. There’s certain things that I’m asking Rakym to do before I allow him to be a part of our basketball team again. Those are things that I’m going to keep private for now.”
Felder was suspended in mid-August after a July 13 arrest that according to police reports started with the Brooklyn, N.Y., native spitting on a woman, which started a “large brawl.” The charges have since been dropped.
That was Felder’s second suspension from the team. He also was arrested Oct. 23, 2016, after knocking one victim unconscious and assaulting a Columbia police officer after being tased, according to an incident report from the Columbia Police Department.
He was not enrolled at USC during the fall semester.
Martin, though, kept alive the possibility of Felder’s return. In October, he declined to go into specifics, but did note: “I love that kid. (Felder’s) not on our team. I’m not going to speak about him. The day that you see him on our roster, I’ll be more than happy to speak to you about him.”
Felder averaged 5.6 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game as a freshman last season, helping USC to the Final Four. The backup point guard posted nine double-figure scoring games, including a 15-point performance in Carolina’s upset of No. 2 seed Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
Potential exists for Felder to be a redshirt sophomore on USC’s 2018-19 team.
“He made a bad mistake, a mistake that hurts me deeply,” Martin said Friday. “But at the same time I got an 18-year-old son. Whoever my son ends up trusting in during his college career, I would want that coach to discipline him, to deal with him, but at the same time not throw him out there to the wolves.
“Rakym has dealt with pain for his mistakes in a serious manner. He’s impacted a lot of people in ways that have hurt people. He understands that. I understand that. His teammates understand that because our team has also been impacted by his mistakes.”
Felder tweeted Friday, “I’m Free Gamecock Nation!!! I Will Continue To Better Myself On & Off The Court Daily My Promise To You’ll.”
Martin made it clear the decision to sit Felder this season was uniquely his.
“He is eligible to play, if I chose to play him,” Martin said. “I made the decision he will not play this year. And he understands. He’s an unbelievable young man and I’m excited to see if I can continue to help him become a better person before we worry about him playing basketball.”
The Gamecocks (9-3) begin SEC play Sunday at Ole Miss (7-5).