Iowa State senior Caleb Grill was released from the team on Wednesday, less than a week before the Big 12 tournament was set to kick off, for failing to “meet the program’s expectations,” the Cyclones announced.
It’s unclear what specifically led to Grill’s removal from the team.
“We hold our players to high standards and there are expectations that our student-athletes are held accountable for,” coach T.J. Otzelberger said in a brief statement, via CycloneFanatic’s Chris Williams.
Grill averaged 9.5 points and four rebounds in 25 games this season. He put up 31 points in the Cyclones' win over then-No. 1 North Carolina in November, and has shot just shy of 40% from the field. He shot a team-best 38.8% from behind the arc. The Kansas native has missed three games with a back injury this season.
Grill posted a lengthy statement on Twitter later on Wednesday afternoon. After thanking fans, teammates and coaches, Grill revealed his struggles with mental health.
“One day when I am brave enough, I hope to be able to share my story about my mental health and my mental illness I have been battling through all season,” he wrote, in part.
“While everyone was commenting about the hair, or the funny actions on the court, it was a way for me to get out of that state of mind and feel like me being myself instead of the dark place I have been in this season. If it was not for the love and support from family network back home … I am not sure I would be alive and I would have made a decision that would have affected so many people’s lives ... Unfortunately, I said something that I regret which has cost me the opportunity to finish out my dream at Iowa State. I hope that all the players and Iowa State fans can find it in their hearts to forgive me."
Grill's dismissal is surprising both due to the fact that the season is almost over and that he has a long history with Otzelberger. Grill first committed to play for Otzelberger at South Dakota State when he was still in high school. He then transferred to UNLV, and back to Iowa State when Otzelberger was hired before the 2021-22 season.
Grill’s removal comes at a very turbulent stretch for the Cyclones. They’ve lost four straight and have dropped 10 of their last 14. After reaching as high as No. 11 in The Associated Press rankings, they fell out completely this week and now sit at sixth in the Big 12 conference standings.
Iowa State will take on No. 7 Baylor on Saturday in its final game of the regular season. The Cyclones, despite their recent struggles, are still widely expected to make the NCAA tournament.