Colorado State Rams men’s basketball faces its biggest challenge of the season two games into Mountain West Conference play, and it’s because of something that has nothing to do with the basketball court.

Three CSU hoops players, Devocio Butler, Che Bob and Kimani Jackson, will be academically ineligible to play in the spring semester of this 2016-17 basketball season.

“We will continue to support these young men in their academic careers,” head coach Larry Eustachy said. “Our top priority is to educate, and we will continue to emphasize this in all that we do. It is a hard lesson, but we will continue to support these young men and provide access to the resources needed to excel in the classroom and graduate. This is disappointing for our entire program, especially the players still competing on the court. All of us will remain focused on our ‘Team Together’ philosophy that is key to our success. We look forward all three getting on track in their academic pursuits towards graduation and joining us on the court next season.”

Their ineligibility means Colorado State’s incredibly short bench – with only 10 active players already – is being cut down to seven. That’s hardly enough players to get through a game, let alone compete for a MW championship or for the right to make a postseason tournament.

Butler and Bob are each JUCO transfers who came to Colorado State to jump into the mix and contribute immediately while five D-I transfers sit on the bench, waiting for the 2017-18 season. They’ve been the two most valuable backups on the team. Bob is averaging 9.1 points and 4.9 boards per game as he only trails Emmanuel Omogbo (10.6 RPG) in the rebounding department. Butler has been a solid backup guard for the Rams this season, averaging 6.4 points and 2.7 boards per contest while knocking down 11 3-pointers.

Kimani Jackson, a redshirt junior and formerly of New Mexico Junior College, provides needed size in the paint and can score down low at times.

Spring semester begins on Jan. 17, 2017.

Next up for the extremely short-handed Rams (9-6, 1-1 MW) is a game Wednesday, Jan. 4 against San Jose State (7-6, 0-1) in California with an 8 p.m. MT tip-off.