FAIRPLAIN, W.VA. (AP) - A starting guard for the University of South Carolina-Aiken basketball team was killed in a car crash hours after playing in the NCAA Division II tournament.
Javonte Clanton, 20, apparently fell asleep at the wheel at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday while driving on I-77 near Fairplain, said the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
Chief Deputy Bruce Dewees said Clanton was pronounced dead at the scene after he was ejected from his 2002 Malibu when it veered off the road and rolled.
Clanton was heading home to Reynoldsburg, Ohio, after the Pacers lost to Augusta State University 85-57 in the Southeast Regional basketball finals Tuesday night. He had driven nearly 465 miles of the 600-mile trip from Augusta, Ga.
It was S.C.-Aiken’s first appearance in the Sweet Sixteen round of the tournament.
Further details about the accident were not available late Wednesday as sheriff’s deputies authorized to discuss the accident left the department for the day.
Chancellor Tom Hallman said Wednesday was a dark day on campus as news of Clanton’s death spread among the student body and faculty. The team learned about it Wednesday morning.
The rising senior guard was a transfer from Blinn Junior College in Texas. He was majoring in communications.
Coach Vince Alexander said the school was “still in a state of disbelief over this incredible loss.”
“Javonte was a very talented basketball player and he was beloved by all his teammates,” Alexander said. “Most importantly, Javonte was an outstanding individual and student.”