March 18, 2009
AIKEN, S.C.---Hours after playing in one of our area's biggest basketball games in years, a USC Aiken basketball player was killed in a car crash.
20-year-old Javonte Clanton died this morning as he was driving from Aiken to suburban Columbus, Ohio, his hometown. He crashed near Fairplain, West Virginia at around 8:30.
Clanton left for his hometown just hours after USCA's first appearance in the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen. School officials and West Virginia state police say it appears he fell asleep at the wheel.
A deputy there says Clanton's car flipped and he was thrown from the car.
Clanton transferred to USC Aiken from Blinn Junior College. He was a junior, majoring in communications. Clanton was a rising senior guard on the basketball team, wearing number 22. His bio on the school's website said his goal was to play pro basketball and take care of his mother and grandmother.
USC-A athletic director Randy Warrick says the death hits everyone hard.
"Our athletes, you feel like they are a part of your family, because you see them every day and you support them," Warrick said. "It is a tragedy to have something like this happen."
"Our students, faculty, and staff are in mourning," said Tom Hallman, chancellor. "It's a dark day on the USC Aiken campus, and our heartfelt thoughts are with Javonte's family, friends, and fellow teammates."
Head coach Vince Alexander and the players were not up to talking about the loss.
Funeral arrangements have not been set.