CONWAY, SC (WBTW) - -Coastal Carolina basketball commitment Deonte Houston will no longer be joining the Chanticleers—men's basketball coach Cliff Ellis confirmed on Wednesday.
Ellis said Houston has committed to play at Southern Miss.
The six-foot, one inch Bronx, NY native point guard had committed to Coastal Carolina in April, but conversations inside of Coastal Carolina's administration about Houston's past might have red-flagged the recruit.
According to a story published on May 13, 2011 in the NY Post, Houston was arrested in high school on charges of burglary charges which were later dropped. The New York Post also reported Houston was arrested on Aug. 14, 2009 for criminal possession of a weapon, and on Jun. 22, 2010 for gambling –and those were also dismissed.
In an email obtained by WBTW through a Freedom of Information Act request, News13 learned that Coastal Carolina Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Eddie Dyer was informed of Houston's run-ins with the law by an email from an alumnus.
Dyer responded in an email on April 22nd: "I've looked into this kid's background and I don't like what I'm finding on the internet."
In a different email obtained by News13 concerning the recruit, Deonte Houston, Dyer wrote:
"Thanks for saving your alma mater from a good bit of very public (and probably wall-to-wall) embarrassment, at the least. We've taken care of the situation," the email from Dyer read. "We're putting a policy and practice in place for that program which should assure this won't happen again."
Some of Ellis' transfers in the past could be considered a black-eye for the program. Mike Holmes, a South Carolina transfer, was dismissed from the Chanticleers in the middle of the 2010-11 season for violating team rules. In the 2011-12 season Chris Gradnigo, a Louisiana-Lafayette transfer, was arrested and booked on assault and kidnapping charges—but those charges did not stick. The Horry County Solicitors office said on Wednesday that there are no pending or closed charges on Gradnigo.
Ellis would not comment on how the situation with Houston was handled. But he did say that the loss of Houston opened up a spot for South Carolina transfer Eric Smith. Smith is finishing up his degree at South Carolina over the summer and will be immediately eligible to join the team this fall.
Other recruits that are on campus and will join Coastal Carolina next season: Josh Cameron, Elijah Wilson, Kyle Buffkin and Colton Ray.
Ellis comments on getting invite to Clemson Hall of Fame
To be a part of the 2013 Clemson Hall of Fame Class is an honor that Coastal Carolina basketball coach Cliff Ellis does not take lightly.
Ellis coached Clemson to their only ACC Regular Season Championship in the 1989-90 season. He took the Tigers to the postseason in eight of ten seasons and is still the program's all time winningest head coach with 177 wins.
"Those ten years there, there was just a lot of happiness," Ellis said. "There was a lot of good teams and a lot of good players. I'm very honored. I raised three children there and two of them still live there.
Ellis said winning the ACC regular season title is one of his biggest accomplishments in his career.
"When you look at having to overcome a Duke or North Carolina," Ellis said. "Winning that league that year was a special time."