Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood takes unauthorized absence

Lady Vol freshman guard Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood left Knoxville on Tuesday evening without permission but was expected to return tonight, coach Pat Summitt said Friday. <p> Wiley-Gatewood, who missed three scheduled practices and apparently a final exam, will not dress out for Sunday's game against DePaul. She was to return to Knoxville on Friday evening.

Summitt, who was out of town Thursday, said she learned of Wiley-Gatewood's absence that morning after she failed to show up for a scheduled individual workout with fellow freshman Candace Parker and the assistant coaches. The session was intended to familiarize both with the offense since Wiley-Gatewood was expected to undergo her first full-scale practice Friday. Parker, who remains sidelined, and Wiley-Gatewood have been out with knee injuries. The session was canceled.

Wiley-Gatewood, who starred at Lynwood High School in Pomona, Calif., also wasn't at practice Wednesday afternoon, but it was believed she had a scheduled exam at the same time. Summitt later learned the freshman had already left Knoxville. Her unexcused absence extends from Wednesday's practice through Friday.

"She missed practice. She violated team policies, and I will deal with it when she returns to practice," Summitt said Friday. "She left town without permission, without our knowledge."

Summitt said Wiley-Gatewood left for personal reasons - she didn't elaborate - but it was apparently not a case of being homesick. Summitt has been in phone contact with the freshman.

"She wants to be here," Summitt said. "I think it's a situation where she chose to leave campus and needs to be on campus. I think Sa'de likes it here. It's not good timing for our team. First and foremost I'm concerned about our team. Period."

Tennessee already is without senior guard Loree Moore, who had her tonsils removed Friday. Moore could miss up to a month while she recovers.

Freshman Alexis Hornbuckle will make her first career start Sunday. Wiley-Gatewood wasn't expected to play Sunday - she has missed all season with patellar tendonitis - but Summitt was excited about getting her into practice and seeing if her knee could withstand the rigors of a regular season. If physically able to play this year, Wiley-Gatewood is expected to provide depth at the point guard position.

"She had her reasons for leaving," Summitt said. "The timing of it was not good for our team."

If Wiley-Gatewood missed any exams, there will be provisions for makeup tests, Summitt said.

Tennessee will practice Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.

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