University of Akron starting point guard Alex Abreu was arrested Thursday on drug charges and has been suspended from the team indefinitely as the Zips begin their run for a Mid-American Conference men’s basketball championship.
Police said Abreu and another Akron man were being held in the Summit County Jail on marijuana-trafficking charges. One count is a third-degree felony; the other is a felony drug-abuse charge, court records show.
Abreu, 21, of East Exchange Street, and Austin L. Durgala, 18, of East Dartmore Avenue, are expected to appear today in Akron Municipal Court.
Police said Abreu and Durgala accepted delivery of a package containing 5 pounds of marijuana.
The package had been intercepted at a local courier service after a K-9 unit detected the drug during shipment. Undercover officers then delivered the package to Abreu and Durgala at the East Dartmore residence.
A junior from Puerto Rico, Abreu is averaging 10.3 points and six assists per game this season, but his influence on the team goes well beyond statistics.
UA basketball coach Keith Dambrot did not return calls for comment Thursday evening, but he has said more than once this season that as Abreu goes, so go the Zips. He sets the tone and tempo for the team with his ability to involve teammates as well as score himself.
Behind Abreu, the Zips are relatively inexperienced at point guard, with freshman Carmelo Betancourt serving as his backup. On occasion, sophomore Deji Ibitayo has played the position. Neither, however, has shown Abreu’s command of the position.
Abreu’s arrest comes as UA (24-5) prepares for the postseason with its final regular-season game at 7 tonight at Rhodes Arena against archrival Kent State (18-12).
The Zips own the top seed for the MAC Tournament, which will start Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. They already secured a spot in the semifinals March 15 by virtue of winning the regular-season conference title, their second in a row.
UA was the favorite of many to win the postseason tournament and earn the MAC’s automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament.
The university released a three-sentence statement Thursday evening, saying only that Abreu had been suspended and that all inquiries should be directed to the Akron Police Department.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org; George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ