ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine men’s basketball team is going to be much younger this season with the influx of six freshmen.
Coach Ted Woodward’s team will be a bit more shorthanded, at least temporarily.
Junior forward Kilian Cato is serving an academic suspension this semester related to his major. He reportedly is taking online classes in the hope of being reinstated in January.
Woodward said he was unable to provide any further details about Cato’s situation because of laws protecting student-athlete privacy.
Cato, a 6-foot-7 shooter from Espoo, Finland, appeared in 28 games, including 10 starts, as a freshman during the 2011-2012 season. He averaged 4.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 17 minutes per contest.
Cato was much less involved last season when he played in only 10 games. He averaged 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds.
He helped fill a void as a backup forward as a freshman, but could not crack the lineup last season in his role as a perimeter shooter.
Three other players voluntarily left the UMaine men’s program since the end of last season to pursue other basketball opportunities.
In April, dynamic guard Edwards announced his intention to transfer. In May, he committed to Kansas State of the Big 12 Conference.
Also in April, all-conference forward Fraser also revealed that he was contemplating a move. Two months later, the Scotland native signed a professional contract to play in Germany.
Junior college transfer Jon Mesghna, a shooting guard, also opted to pursue basketball elsewhere and transferred to Division II Montana State-Billings.
Johnson commits to UM women
The UMaine women’s basketball team has received a commitment for its 2014 recruiting class.
Kirsten Johnson, a 6-foot-3 post player from San Diego, has accepted a scholarship offer from the Black Bears and will attend UMaine next year.
Johnson is a center at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, an all-girls school in San Diego. She helped the Pilots win the CIF Division III Championship for San Diego County last season.
Johnson visited Orono the weekend of Sept. 19-20 and announced her decision Sept. 23 on her Twitter account.
“Committed to the University of Maine! Can’t wait to be a Black bear next year,” her Tweet read.
Johnson averaged 17.7 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots per game for coach Darice Carnaje.
UMaine coach Richard Barron is prohibited by NCAA rules from talking about a recruit until after she has signed a National Letter of Intent. That period begins in November.
UMaine appears to have a need for a taller center next season after the graduation of 6-4 Ali Nalivaika, who has been plagued by knee injuries. That would leave Anna Heise (6-3) as the Bears’ only post player over 6 feet, although 6-2 Mikaela Gustafsson could see front-court duty.