South Dakota State sophomore guard Noah Freidel, last year's Summit League freshman of the year and the Jackrabbits' leading scorer with 17.1 points per game, announced at a Wednesday morning Zoom press conference that he will sit out the remainder of the season.
Freidel revealed that he's been battling depression. In last weekend's series at Oral Roberts, Freidel struggled in only 17 minutes of action on Saturday, then sat out the next day's game in what coach Eric Henderson called a mutual decision.
"After meeting with Coach Hendo and my family we've decided I'm not going to play for the remainder of the year as I've been struggling with depression and anxiety," Freidel said in a prepared statement. "I'm going to take this time to get healthy and work through these mental health issues. I'm so thankful to be surrounded by amazing teammates and I can't wait to get back out on the floor with them."
An emotional Henderson said Freidel has the team's full support and that what happens behind the scenes to get Freidel the help he needs will stay within the family of the program.
"Noah's a full member of our team," Henderson said. "His teammates love him, his coaches love him and our fans love him. He's an awesome kid. How he's involved with the team will be between me and Noah."
The Jacks have used David Wingett and Charlie Easley in the starting lineup in place of Freidel at times this season. Freidel's loss is a big one, as he's shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range and helps spread the floor away from big men Matt Dentlinger and Doug Wilson. While the Jacks know they're a stronger team with Freidel in the lineup, they know getting him where he needs to be is the top priority.
"We're proud of him for having the courage, but certainly we're going to miss him," Henderson said. "He's an important part of our team and a talented player. But basketball needs to go by the wayside right now and the young man needs to get healthy and we're here to help him with that."
The Jacks travel to Fargo this weekend for two games against North Dakota State.