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.