Basketball player McNeil charged with assault

The sophomore allegedly beat his girlfriend with a belt. He remained in jail Wednesday evening.

Christopher Aadland

A University of Minnesota basketball player is suspended from the team as he faces assault charges.

Sophomore guard Daquein McNeil strangled his girlfriend of 10 months and then beat her with a belt, according to a complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court.

He was charged Wednesday with one felony count of third-degree assault and a felony count of domestic assault by strangulation. McNeil faces up to eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine if convicted on both charges.

McNeil remained in the Hennepin County Jail on Sunday evening. Bail was set at $75,000, and his first court appearance was scheduled for Dec. 1.

He is suspended from all team activities until the case is resolved.

“This athletics department remains committed to its values of respect for others and respect for the greater community,” athletics director Norwood Teague said in a statement released Wednesday. “We will not tolerate domestic assault from any of our staff or student-athletes.”

The alleged assault occurred Monday morning on Fulton Street Southeast near the Superblock.

McNeil initially went to his girlfriend’s apartment to pick up his backpack, according to the court document. She was sleeping when McNeil came into her room with a cooking pan and smashed a mirror, the document said, and he then dumped a bottle of alcohol over her clothes.

The girlfriend’s roommate convinced McNeil to leave, but he returned later and dragged the victim off her bed, stripped off her pants and dumped cold water on her, the complaint said.

He then strangled her and told her, “You ruined my life; now I am going to ruin your life,” according to the court document.

The victim then entered the bathroom to shower, the document said, and McNeil snapped a wet towel against her skin.

He then repeatedly whipped her with his belt, the complaint said.

McNeil used the towel to stifle his girlfriend’s screams while he whipped her, according to the complaint.

The victim eventually escaped and ran to a neighbor for help, according to the document.

The court document noted she had large welts all over her body and a reddish mark on her neck where McNeil allegedly strangled her, and it noted that she was also bleeding from a cut on her wrist.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a news conference that McNeil overcame a “difficult childhood” to land a scholarship at the University, according to a press release.

“Having said that, the police reports and the injuries to his girlfriend are just unacceptable,” Freeman said in the release.

McNeil, considered to be one of the team’s best perimeter defenders, was expected to be an important player this season.

He averaged 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 18.8 minutes of playing time in four games this season.

Gophers head basketball coach Richard Pitino told reporters after Friday’s game that he and his players were “shocked” by McNeil’s suspension.

“I’m not going to act like it didn’t certainly throw us all for a pretty big loop,” he said. “That shocked all of us.”