USF’s Baker suspended

It didn’t take long.

Just six weeks into his new job, men’s basketball coach Robert McCullum issued his first suspension this weekend on rising sophomore Yusuf Baker.

It is not known yet when Baker will be back with the Bulls.

“He violated team policy,” McCullum said. Beyond that, he would not comment on the specifics of the situation.

The 6-foot-8 forward, who started 17 games during his freshman season at USF, led the Bulls with 34 blocks and scored 4.9 points per game while grabbing 4.8 rebounds per game.

The suspension of Baker came hard on the heels of the loss of Sheldon Franklin, whose scholarship was cancelled because of questionable SAT scores.

Also, a future Bull was removed from the team when signee Ricardo Freeman was granted a release from his scholarship.

Recent history suggests McCullum will have to become accustomed to abrupt departures. Toward the end of former coach Seth Greenberg’s tenure, sophomore Terrence Leather left the bench during a game, senior Will McDonald faced battery charges and senior Greg Brittain was suspended by the NCAA.

The loss of Baker was at least tempered by the addition of Steve Henson, who was named acting assistant basketball coach Thursday.

Henson’s last job was in Atlanta as an assistant to the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.

“We are extremely elated to have Steve join our staff,” McCullum said in a news release. “I know the type of player Steve was, and I know how he approached the game as a player and as a coach in terms of hard work, sacrifice and, above all, preparation.”

Henson was a senior for Kansas State in 1990 when McCullum was a member of the coaching staff.

“I am certainly very excited about this opportunity,” said Henson. “There are a lot of positives about the situation at South Florida. My relationship with Coach McCullum, we’ve known each other 14 years, had a lot to do with me making this decision. I have (a) great deal of respect for him. I played for him a season at K-State and then worked with him at Illinois.”