George Mason sophomores Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray have been suspended for the Patriots first three regular-season games for student-athlete conduct violations, the school announced on Tuesday.
The suspension includes the home-opener against Virginia on November 9, at Bucknell (Nov. 13) and against Mercer (Nov. 16) in the opening game of the Paradise Jam.
Copes, the highest ranked recruit ever to sign with the Fairfax program, is expected to take over the interior defensive and rebounding vacancy created by the graduation of big men Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson. As a freshman Copes averaged 3.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while blocking 51 shots.
Gray played in 32 of the Patriots 33 games last season and the swingman averaged 3.4 points.
Both players will practice with the team, but will not dress for games. Copes and Gray will be eligible to play in the second game of the Paradise Jam, a three-game tournament in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
The Patriots packed their non-conference schedule this year in order to beef up their at-large NCAA Tournament resume as evidenced by those early games. Not only is Virginia an ACC program, but a the opportunity to play them or any major conference program at the Patriot Center is a rarity. Bucknell is a perennial Patriot League contender and Mercer is considered the favorite to win the Atlantic Sun conference plus the team potentially standing in the way for Mason to face other notable programs that would boost its own RPI including New Mexico and Connecticut.
According to Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun, Maryland basketball legend Juan Dixon will be named the head coach at Coppin State, his first men's head coaching job.
After his playing career wound down after stints in the NBA and Europe, Dixon joined Mark Turgeon's staff in College Park but was not retained after the 2015-16 season.
For 2016-17, Dixon took over the UDC women's basketball coaching job finishing with a 3-25 record, but only had nine scholarship athletes.
Dixon will take over a struggling Coppin State program that has only won 25 games in the past three seasons and hasn't finished with a winning record in the MEAC since 2011-12.
Coppin State became only the third No. 15 seed to top a No. 2 seed in 1997, but have only made the NCAA tournament one time since then (2008). Dixon will look to return Coppin State to the success it had during the 1990's.
MORE MARYLAND: Maryland lands graduate transfer from Duke
BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum
The face of VCU basketball for the past several seasons, Mo Alie-Cox is heading to the professional ranks.
No, not as a player on the hardwood but rather as one on the gridiron.
On Thursday it was reported by multiple sources that Cox will sign with the Indianapolis Colts. It is expected that Cox will play primarily as a tight end for the Colts, after tailoring his NFL workouts last month to that position.
According to Mike Garafolo, Cox was deemed eligible for the NFL Draft by the league last season due to his previous red-shirted year. A year removed from draft eligibility, he is technically a free-agent.
At 6'7" and 250 pounds, he is a natural fit for the position. In addition he has a 7-1 wingspan and gigantic hands that make a basketball look small.
RELATED: Early entry NBA Draft list
Cox joins a long list of converted basketball stars into NFL tight-ends. Most famous is perhaps Jimmy Graham of the Seattle Seahawks who played both basketball and football at the University of Miami. The list also includes Antonio Gates, new Colts teammate Erik Swoope, Martellus Bennett, and Julius Thomas just to name a few.
In his four year career with the Rams, Cox played 142 games and helped the team to NCAA tournament berth every season. In an interview with CSN last November, then-VCU head coach Will Wade said he'd received calls from NFL teams and scouts about Alie-Cox throughout his career.