Taurean Thompson withdraws from Syracuse

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - JANUARY 01: Syracuse University Orange forward Taurean Thompson (12) waits at the foul line during an ACC match up between the Boston College Eagles and the Syracuse University Orange on January 1, 2017 at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The Eagles defeated the Orange 96-81. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

Expected to play a key role in Syracuse‘s upcoming season, Taurean Thompson instead is unlikely to be part of this year’s Orange iteration. The sophomore-to-be withdrew from the university, Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com reports. Jim Boeheim confirmed in a statement Thompson has taken a leave of absence from the school. Syracuse began classes Monday.

“We have been informed that Taurean is taking a leave of absence from Syracuse University,” Boeheim said. “My understanding is he wants to go to school closer to home due to some family health issues.”

A 6-9 forward out of New York City, Thompson was set to be a prominent player for the Orange this season. Syracuse lost graduate transfers Andrew White and John Gillon, but in addition to the backcourt exits, forwards Tyler Roberson and Tyler Lydon are gone as well. Lydon decided to forego his final two seasons and enter the NBA Draft. That put more onus on Thompson, who averaged 9.2 points per game in 34 contests as a freshman.

But Ditota details a rumor-filled offseason that painted a picture of uncertainty around Thompson’s Syracuse status, and the rumblings of a departure turned out to be true. Ditota reports Thompson has not communicated with his teammates this offseason, failing to return phone calls and messages. Thompson’s reasoning for the impending exit isn’t known.

The 20-year-old talent said after Syracuse’s NIT loss to Ole Miss he would be back for his second season. He was expected to team with Tyus Battle, Syracuse’s top returner, and others in an effort to elevate the program back to the NCAA Tournament. Now, Pascal Chukwu — a 7-2 Providence transfer, who missed most of last season with eye trouble — stands to see a bigger role. Freshman Bourama Sidibe may have a clearer route to playing time now as well.

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