Leading scorer Iman Lathan becomes latest player to leave Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball

In Sports
(Katie Albertson / Daily Titan Stock Photo)

In addition to losing its 11th consecutive game, Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball has also lost its leading scorer. Iman Lathan told the Daily Titan she quit the team Monday.

Lathan was seen on campus Wednesday while the team was in San Luis Obispo preparing for its game against Cal Poly. A spokesperson for the team told the Daily Titan in a statement Wednesday that the redshirt junior was not on the trip due to “disciplinary reasons.”

Lathan has led the Titans in scoring throughout the season even while coming off the bench for 13 of the 24 games she played in.

This is the second consecutive year the Titans’ leading scorer has opted to leave Head Coach Daron Park’s program.

Michelle Berry led the Titans in scoring last season before transferring to Virginia Tech over the offseason as part of an exodus that saw six non-seniors leave the program.

It was not just athletes who fled the team after last season. Two of the assistant coaches on staff last year–Steven Fennelly and Abi Olajuwan–are no longer with the team. Karen Middleton, the associate head coach, was not brought back at the end of her one-year appointment.

Lathan is not the first player to leave this season. Freshman Keimeshia Walker left the Titans midseason “to pursue other opportunities,” according to a press release. Kimari Hollis committed to CSUF for the 2016-17 season but never appeared in a game for the Titans and was not on the roster to begin the year.

With a 3-27 record last season and a 4-24 record so far this year, Park has lost more players than he has won games over the past two seasons.

Tensions between Park and Lathan became public during the Titans’ 70-51 loss to UC Davis on Jan. 19. Lathan expressed frustration with Jordan Jackson for not converting a layup and was subsequently benched. Lathan returned later in the second quarter.

“These are teachable moments for everybody, and everybody’s going to be held accountable,” Park said after that game. “If there’s a reaction that I don’t think is appropriate, then I’m going to address it. That’s what the head coach does.”

Lathan appeared in the team’s next two games before being benched for two contests. At the time Park declined to comment on the matter.

Following her benching for the contests against UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara, Lathan worked her way back into the rotation and was back in the starting lineup one game after returning.

The uninterrupted playing time didn’t last long. In the Titans’ 55-45 loss to Hawaii Saturday at Titan Gym, Lathan played 12 minutes, all in the first half. Her season average was 28.4 minutes per game.

In the first half of the game against Hawaii, Lathan’s father made a comment to the referee near him. While Lathan’s father did not use profanity, the referee still kicked him out of the game.

Lathan, who was on the court at the time, appeared to ask the ref what the issue was.

Minutes later, Lathan was taken out of the game and did not step foot on the court again.

“That’s a coach’s decision. There was something I wasn’t pleased with, and I’m going to handle it,” Park said following the loss to Hawaii.

Coach Park has continuously told the Daily Titan that Lathan’s benching is a “coaching decision” but has never specified why he has made that decision.

He won’t be asked again.

Harrison Faigen contributed to this report.

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