Season ends for UI's Smith

Season ends for UI's Smith

CHAMPAIGN - Jamar Smith will not play again for Illinois this season, coach Bruce Weber said in a statement this morning.

Meanwhile, there is a chance freshman Brian Carlwell could return to the court for the Big Ten tournament.

Smith, a sophomore, and Carlwell, a freshman, were involved in a car accident late Monday in Champaign. Carlwell, who suffered a severe concussion and is in good condition at Urbana's Carle Foundation Hospital, is expected to be released today, Weber said. Carlwell, 19, has been in the hospital since early Tuesday morning.

Smith, 19, was driving his 1996 Lexus when it crashed into a tree on South First Street in Champaign around 11:20 p.m. Monday. Carlwell was in the passenger seat. An investigation into the accident and the events that followed is ongoing.

Weber released a statement this morning on Smith's status with the basketball team.

"It has been mutually agreed upon between myself and Jamar Smith and his family, that he sit out the remainder of this season so that he can focus all of his attention on the physical, emotional, academic and other related issues he will face in the coming weeks," the statement read. "As I said Wednesday, this is a very difficult time for Jamar. Our coaches, players and program will continue to support him as he deals with this situation."

Smith has averaged 8.1 points appearances, 15 in a reserve role. Ankle injuries sidelined the shooting guard for six games. Smith went to be with family in his hometown of Peoria earlier this week, after the accident.

Illinois (18-9, 6-6, Big Ten) practiced Wednesday and Thursday as it prepares for a game Sunday against Northwestern at the Assembly Hall. Practices have been closed to the media. Carlwell is hoping to be in attendance for the game, Weber said. Weber said "the best-case scenario" for Carlwell's return to the court would be the Big Ten tournament March 8-11 in Chicago.

"That's if everything goes right," Weber said. "It's just like football (with) multiple concussions, severe concussions, you've just got to watch him. He's made great progress in the last couple days."

On Monday night, UI police officers located a crash scene at 2021 South First Street. But the badly damaged vehicle already had been driven to the College Park Fields apartment complex, formerly known as Sterling Fields, in Savoy. UI police and Champaign County sheriff's officers responded to an emergency phone call at the complex. They found an injured passenger, Carwell, inside, and arranged to have him taken to Carle.

UI spokesman Kent Brown said it was his understanding that two women who lived at the complex called authorities when they saw the vehicle. Arriving later at the hospital was Smith, who was determined to be the driver. He was interviewed, treated and released, UI police Lt. Jeff Christensen said Thursday. He wasn't sure how Smith got to the hospital.

Smith was ticketed for improper lane usage. Blood and urine samples taken at the hospital have been sent to the Illinois State Police Crime lab in Springfield, and it's possible more charges will be filed when those results become available.

Veteran Champaign attorney Mark Lipton said he has been retained to represent Smith.

Weber said the circumstances have been difficult on the rest of the Illini. They will continue on without Smith, and possibly without Carlwell.

Injury update.

Senior forward Warren Carter suffered an ankle injury at practice Wednesday, Weber said. Carter did not practice Thursday and is considered questionable for Sunday's game.

 News-Gazette staff writer Julie Wurth contributed to this story

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