- Eamonn Brennan, College Basketball Reporter
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I'll admit it: If my face looked the way Xavier forward Kenny Frease's face looked after Cincinnati's Yancy Gates sucker-punched him Saturday, I would not be quick to forgive. Frease's welt was major. The left side of his face looked like Antonio Margarito after the Manny Pacquiao fight. Plus, Frease almost got stomped when he was on the ground. It was really bad.
Of anyone in the arena during the Cincy-Xavier brawl, Frease is perhaps most deserving of some retribution. But he isn't having it. He's simply not interested. Instead, as the Associated Press reported yesterday, Frease was one of the main reasons Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters did not seek to press charges against Gates or any other player in the wake of the brawl.
Frease spoke about his decision to the Cincinnati Enquirer, which was preceded by a text message exchange he had with Gates this week. Frease reached out in the spirit of reconcilation and to let him know he didn't want to press charges; Gates thanked Frease and apologized for his actions. In all of it, you can't help but be impressed by the big Xavier forward's maturity:
“I just wanted to let him know that … I mean, I saw a lot of the stuff coming out about how the police and stuff were looking into it and I just wanted him to know that anything that was coming from that wasn’t from my end. I never wanted to press charges against him,” Frease said Wednesday at Cintas Center.
“People make mistakes in the heat of battle. I’ve made mistakes in my life in emotional situations. I don’t think that’s a reason … especially in a basketball game. Obviously there’s no room for that in a basketball game. But to pursue somebody criminally for something that happens in something that’s that competitive -- it seemed immature to me. And I didn’t want him to be punished for something for his whole life because of something that he did in a game that is that emotional.”
Frease also told the Enquirer's Shannon Russell he wasn't sure if Gates would know it was him, or if he would assume it was a fake or a troll or one of the thousands of people that had been bombarding Frease's phone throughout the week. But he got through, connected with the man who nearly destroyed his left eye, and initiated what must be the most diplomatic gesture we've seen since this whole thing began.
It feels a bit like the end of "Rocky 4." If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change! And I'm not being sarcastic, either. Frease deserves a huge amount of credit here. In a situation that featured so many otherwise good kids allowing themselves to be pulled lower than they are -- all for the sake of that precious fake toughness -- Frease, the guy with seven stitches in his eye, is the first to act like the bigger man. After such a punchy day, finally, here's a sign of maturity and understanding. If both schools can move on and move forward from Saturday, this is why.
I'll admit it: If my face looked the way Xavier forward Kenny Frease's face looked after Cincinnati's Yancy Gates sucker-punched him Saturday, I would not be quick to forgive.