SEATTLE - Washington backup point guard Venoy Overton was reinstated Sunday and will play in the NCAA tournament Friday against Georgia, giving coach Lorenzo Romar's Huskies some needed backcourt depth.
Overton was suspended for the Pac-10 tournament after he was charged by the Seattle city attorney with providing alcohol to a minor. Overton was a spectator on the bench as Washington won the conference tournament title Saturday with a 77-75 overtime victory over Arizona.
With Overton unavailable, Isaiah Thomas played 123 of a possible 125 minutes in the conference tournament.
Overton spoke briefly Sunday for the first time since he was charged, while not directly addressing his case. Overton still has a court date scheduled for April 1. He said the last two months have been difficult and that the talk going on in public was almost more of a punishment than his suspension.
"It was hard. I feel like just all that being said was kind of a bigger punishment than sitting out, from the fact this is my hometown and just reputation," Overton said. "You don't want the reputation of being known for that."
The charge is a gross misdemeanor that carries up to a year in jail, though such a harsh punishment is extremely unlikely.
The case stemmed from an allegation by a 16-year-old girl that Overton sexually assaulted her at an apartment in Seattle on Jan. 8. King County prosecutors declined to file charges in that case because other witnesses reported that the contact appeared consensual. They referred the case to city prosecutors because of evidence Overton bought alcohol for the girl and her 16-year-old friend.
Romar immediately suspended Overton after charges were filed and said there had been internal punishment already placed on the senior guard before suspending him for what turned out to be three games.
"After watching that tournament I'm blessed to be able to still play," Overton said.