JONESBORO, Ark. -- Arkansas State's leading scorer, Adrian Banks, is suspended through the end of the calendar year after being charged with firing a handgun within Jonesboro's city limits, coach Dickey Nutt said.
Banks, who averaged 21.7 points through the season's first six games to rank 16th in the nation in scoring, has been suspended since Dec. 2. Police say he fired the handgun after leaving a nightclub early that morning. Banks said he did it to empty the gun of bullets and keep anyone else from firing it. Banks said he fired the gun into the air, which police confirmed.
Banks said he picked up the gun during a dispute after leaving the club.
Banks has missed an 88-68 loss at Northwestern and a 101-49 home victory over Central Baptist. He will also miss a game Sunday against Ball State and the Dec. 20 Sun Belt Conference opener against Florida Atlantic, both at Jonesboro. He'll miss another league game at New Orleans on Dec. 22 and a home game Dec. 30 with MacMurray College.
Banks is to be back with the Indians for a Jan. 3 stop at Sun Belt rival Louisiana-Lafayette.
Nutt said the term of the suspension was made by the school's judiciary board at his recommendation. The panel told the athletic department Tuesday of its decision. "Anytime that something like this happens, it affects your basketball team," Nutt said. "I'm just relieved that the decision is made and we're moving forward."
Nutt said he has faith that Banks will avoid trouble in the future. "I feel that we're happy to get Adrian back on Jan. 1," Nutt added. "I'm a believer in second chances and I think Adrian is getting a tremendous second chance. I have always been very proud of what Adrian has stood for and I have every reason to believe that he will finish strong, and that is exactly what I'm expecting."
Last season Banks set the school single-season scoring record with 695 points, averaging 21.1 points per game. He finished No. 6 in the nation and first in the Sun Belt Conference in three-point shooting, at 47.5 percent.
Banks was arrested when his car was stopped at 2:35 a.m. on Dec. 2. Police said he fired the shots from a moving car. Banks' vehicle had four other athletes inside, though they were not named by police.
"I want to be perfectly clear that we don't condone bad decisions and we know from time to time that bad decisions are made that have to be dealt with," Nutt said. "Sometimes there are tough consequences for those decisions, but we're good and I'm fine with it. We just want to move on now and put this behind us."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press