Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Conference realignment and how it affects college hoops

So you know how everyone has been saying and writing all this stuff about Texas A&M planning on leaving the Big 12 and joining the SEC?

Well, today it became about as official as its going to get. Texas A&M announced that they were leaving the Big 12, effective June 30th, 2012, so long as they get accepted by another conference. And you better believe they know they are going to get accepted by the SEC. Would you leave a good job because you no longer get along with your co-workers if you didn't have assurances you'd be getting hired elsewhere?

Didn't think so.


Most believe that A&M leaving the Big 12 is the next step towards college sports breaking into four 16 team super-conferences, a process that was triggered last summer when Texas got their own TV Network (and all the money that comes with an ESPN affiliation) and Nebraska and Colorado bolted for the Big 10 and Pac-12, respectively. The next step? It could be Virginia Tech heading to the SEC. Or Missouri and Kansas bolting for the Big East. Or Texas jumping ship and joining the Pac-12 with three Pac-12 counterparts.

I don't think anyone knows exactly what happens next or when it will happen, but I think most believe that the end-game -- be it five, ten or 25 years down the road -- is the Big 12 completely disintegrating with the Big East and ACC fighting to the death over the scraps while simultaneously defending themselves against looting from the Big Ten and SEC.

In the process, the college sports that we know and love will forever be the worse for wear.

Its ironic that the Big East basketball schedule was released on the same day as Texas A&M announced their withdrawal from the Big 12, because the Big East is the perfect example of why 16-18 team super-conferences simply don't work. Even playing an 18 game schedule, each program will only get home-and-home's with three opponents this season and only two opponents starting next season when TCU joins the fold.

Think about that for a second. While we luck out in getting UConn and Syracuse playing twice, the Orange only play Georgetown -- which is one of the greatest rivalries in all of college basketball -- once this season. Imagine if the ACC expands to the point that Duke and UNC only play once a year, or if the SEC gets large enough that Florida and Tennessee only get one crack at Kentucky each season?

What's more, the two of the favorites to win the conference -- Pitt and UConn -- will only play once this year, on the last day of the regular season. But who cares about that when Louisville plays DePaul twice and Villanova gets two games against South Florida. And we can rest easy knowing that the greatest rivalry of them all -- Rutgers and Seton Hall -- will be played twice this year.

Its head-to-head games like that that allowed the Big East to turn down a billion-dollar TV deal, right?

Its a shame, really.

Historic rivalries like Texas A&M and Texas will be destroyed by hurt feelings and greed.

But hey, its all in the name of amateurism!
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Why Andre Drummond counts against UConn's scholarship total but Michael Bradley doesn't

Late last night, we posted a column on how the only person that has been -- or will be -- negatively effected by the NCAA's scholarship reductions at UConn is Michael Bradley.

Long story short, UConn is at their maximum allotment of scholarship players because, thanks to the Nate Miles sanctions and two scholarships lost due to their low APR, they are only allowed 10 this year. But Andre Drummond, who is going to be a lottery pick whenever he decides to head to the NBA Draft, wants to go to UConn, so in order for the Huskies to make room for him, they need a player currently on scholarship to no longer be on scholarship.

That player has to be Michael Bradley because, according to the NCAA rulebook, he wasn't technically a recruited player. Drummond was. So was everyone else on the UConn roster. And if you are technically a recruited player, than you count against the scholarship limit regardless of whether or not you are on scholarship. That's why Drummond can't simply pay his own way.

The question that I got asked, however, was what makes you technically a recruited player? And with a hat-tip to the ByLawBlog's John Infante, I give you Rule 15.02.8:

For purposes of Bylaw 15, a recruited student-athlete is a student-athlete who, as a prospective student-athlete: (Adopted: 1/15/11 effective 8/1/11)

(a) Was provided an official visit to the institution's campus;

(b) Had an arranged, in-person, off-campus encounter with a member of the institution's coaching staff (including a coach's arranged, in-person, off-campus encounter with the prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete's parents, relatives or legal guardians); or

(c) Was issued a National Letter of Intent or a written offer of athletically related financial aid by the institution for a regular academic term.
This is where it gets tricky.

Drummond was recruited by UConn, meaning that he is going to count towards their scholarship limit regardless of whether or not he is actually on scholarship. Bradley, however, was also "recruited" to UConn. He took an official visit and actually signed a letter of intent.

But there is a way around that thanks to Rule 15.5.1.2.1, which states that "a student-athlete who was recruited ... and whose only source of institutional financial aid is academic aid based solely on the recipient's academic record at the certifying institution, awarded independently of athletics interests and in amounts consistent with the pattern of all such awards made by the institution, may compete without counting in the institution's financial aid team limits, provided he or she has completed at least one academic year of full-time enrollment at the certifying institution and has achieved a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.000 (on a 4.000 scale) at the certifying institution."

So there you go.

Since Bradley has complete one academic year at UConn, if he is carrying a GPA above a 3.0 he can get an exception that says that the financial aid he receives won't count against UConn's scholarship total. And given the fact that Bradley spent most of his teenage years in a group home, if he truly does have a 3.0, I don't think it will be difficult for UConn to find a way to get the cost of his education covered.

Jim Calhoun just took the NCAA's cookies.
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Wednesday Morning Dump

- We'll start off our venture into Troy-less dumping this morning with one of my favorite columns of the off-season -- Andy Glockner's look at the unluckiest teams of last season. You should also give his column on Holy Cross a read.

- Loved this post from Andrew Murawa over at RTC. A college football dream team made up of college hoopers.

- Good read from Andy Katz here on Ed DeChellis was influenced to take the job at Navy by Skip Prosser.

- Didn't see this coming -- Bruce Pearl turned down a job in the D-League to work for a wholesale grocer.

- I understand how it benefits coaching staffs, but I couldn't disagree more with Jason King's column on banning twitter.

- Orlando Johnson got better during the off-season? He was already pretty damn good.

- Luke Winn tells us what the entire internet has already told us -- Andre Drummond will have a major impact at UConn. Only its Luke Winn, so he tells us better.

- There were a ton of commitments yesterday. It started with Dillon Graham, who committed to Florida. If the name sounds familiar, he's this kid

- The Oklahoma State got a commitment from NYC native Kamari Murphy

- After that, it was Obij Aget to New Mexico and Shawn Lester to Charlotte

- DeJuan Marrero then popped for DePaul

- And finally, Rohan Brown committed to La Salle and BYU landed commitments from Jackson Emery's little brother and Tyler Haws' little brother

- Justin Young gives his take on the news of Javaris Crittendon. Tough read.

- Tom Izzo is "so excited" for the season to start

- Scout ranks the 2012 recruiting classes. Tough to understand how Arizona is below Indiana at this point.

- Reggie Moore was not pleased with his performance last season. With Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto gone, we should be expecting a very good season out of Wazzu's junior point guard.

- If you missed it, there was a bit of a kerfluffle yesterday when news leaked out that Kentucky was pulling the credentials of the UK student newspaper for reporting. Here are both sides.

- A St. Louis power forward will play on New Zealand's national team

- Adam Zagoria takes a look at the curious case of Michael Chandler

- Not exactly hoops related, but Lost Letterman caught up with Alex Wolff, who penned the first takedown of The U.



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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The only person hurt by the NCAA's sanction against UConn? Michael Bradley

(Ed. Note: While I was finishing up this column, Dan Wolken of The Daily decided to go off on the NCAA Managing Director of Digital Communications, Ronnie Ramos. Poor timing on our part, but I strongly urge you to go back and read through Wolken's tweets. It got ugly.)

For UConn fans, it will be tough to top what has happened in the last six months.

A surprise run to the Big East title. An even more surprising run to the national title. The emergence of Jeremy Lamb as a star-in-the-making. The late-addition of Deandre Daniels. The even-later addition of Andre Drummond. I'm not sure anyone should be happy about a man losing his job, but if Jeff Hathaway getting forced out ensures Jim Calhoun's return, well, then you can throw that one on the list as well.


For the players on the back-end of the UConn roster, the situation is quite a bit different.

You see, the way the NCAA works is that an athletic scholarship is good for a year. They are given out on July 1st, and once a player has received his scholarship, it cannot be taken away until July 1st of the next year. UConn currently has 10 players on scholarship, but since they were docked three scholarships for this season -- one for the violations committed when recruiting Nate Miles and two for their low APR -- the Huskies are currently at their maximum in terms of scholarship players.

In other words, the Huskies cannot add another scholarship player unless one of their players currently on scholarship "voluntarily" decides give up theirs and become a walk-on. Since Drummond was recruited by the Huskies, he cannot count as a walk-on player. Even if he were to pay his own way at the school, he will count against UConn's scholarship total. And given their current APR score, UConn also cannot afford to do what teams in this situation usually do and run off a player, forcing him to transfer. That will drop their APR even further.

The result is that UConn now finds themselves in the difficult position of having to "ask" either Niels Giffey or Enosch Wolf to give up their scholarship and return to Germany to play professionally or "asking" redshirt freshman Michael Bradley, a Tennessee native, to give up his scholarship, apply for loans and financial aid packages, and pay his own way for at least one season. According to NCAA bylaws, Bradley wasn't technically recruited by the Huskies, meaning that he will not count against their scholarship numbers should he pay his own way to school.

As of yesterday, no decision had yet been made.

(As an aside, its fitting that UConn AD Jeff Hathaway was forced to resign earlier this month. Could it be that he stood in the way of Calhoun's efforts to get Drummond into school? Is that why it took so long for Drummond to actually make the decision to attend UConn? He had to wait until Calhoun got the OK from his bosses that they could try and pull this scheme off?)

Personally, I don't have as big of a problem with running players off as others do. I've written about it extensively on two different occasions -- here and here -- so I won't elaborate too much in this space, but essentially what has happened is that whoever gives up their scholarship will have gotten cut. It sucks, I've been there. And I certainly don't envy being the player in that situation. But this is also big-time college basketball. As it is with every level of sport beyond your hometown's CYO leagues, if you aren't good enough to make the team, you get cut.

But the Bradley situation is slightly different. He's not being run-off the team. He's not being "asked" to transfer to a different school where he'll be put back on scholarship. He's being "asked" by the staff at UConn to either accept the fact that he no longer as a scholarship or be the person standing in the way of Andre Drummond joining the Huskies.

And all this is happening days before the start of the fall semester.

That is a terrible position for UConn to put a kid and that kid's family in.


Assuming that Bradley "volunteers" to give up his scholarship, there is one of two ways that this plays out. Either he is forced to pay some or all of the $42,594 it would cost a student from Tennessee to attend UConn, or the financial aid Bradley receives is going to force another student that needs that money to attend UConn to be forced to go to elsewhere. $42,594 is not a small amount of money, especially for a kid that spent the majority of his teenage years in a group home.

Nick Fasulo of Searching For Billy Edelin asks a very good question -- how is this acceptable? How is this allowed to happen?

Frankly, its because the NCAA is utterly toothless.

If Bradley is forced to go off scholarship, most of the anger is probably going to be directed at Calhoun, his staff and the UConn administration that allowed it to happen. And it should. I'm not trying to deflect that anger. If their staff doesn't find some way for Bradley to attend the school for free (and if you click the link above, he should theoretically qualify for complete financial aid), than I fail to see how Calhoun can go into a living room and tell a family that he has their son's best interests in mind and have them believe it.

And I fail to see how anyone in the state of Connecticut can support this move.

But think about this: the entire reason that UConn is in this situation is that they were caught redhanded using a certified agent to recruit a player to their school -- a player that lasted a month before he was kicked out for violating a restraining order in 16 minutes -- and because their program has an embarrassingly low APR score. But instead of actually being punished, UConn won the 2010 national title and landed one of the best recruits in the country.

And (I'm bolding this because the emphasis shouldn't be lost on you) the result of those scholarship reductions for poor academic performance is that a player that grew up in a group home, precisely the kind of kid that an athletic scholarship should be used on, is being taken off scholarship to make room for a one-and-done lottery pick.

That's fucking pathetic. Its pathetic that UConn would pull this stunt, but its even worse that the NCAA -- whose first concern is that these "student"-athletes get an education -- can and will allow it to happen.

The only person that the NCAA's sanctions against UConn actually negatively affected was the kid that truly needed the scholarship in the first place. That literally goes against everything that the NCAA stands for in the first place.

Think about that the next time the NCAA lauds amateurism and promotes their "student"-athletes while cashing eight and nine figure checks.

What makes this even more mind-blowing is that there is a good chance that Bradley will qualify for a very large chunk, if not complete, financial aid from the University. I mean, hell, we're talking about a kid that grew up in a group home! What more does the financial aid office need to see? And if that is the case, than Calhoun can kick his feet up and laugh. He can laugh at the fact that he was able to thumb his nose at the NCAA, keep a poor kid from paying anything while playing basketball at UConn and bringing in Drummond despite having no scholarships available.

One of these days, it will be nice to see the NCAA's enforcement staff actually be able to, you know, enforce stuff.
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Maryland lands Ukrainian big man

With Jordan Williams entering the NBA Draft after his sophomore season, Mark Turgeon looked like he was going to be kicking off his tenure at Maryland with a massive hole in his front-line.

it was bad enough that he told reporters "the roster is not where it needs to be, but Gary told me that" and that he was "not going to add a stiff to add a stiff."

That should give you an idea of what kind of player Olexiy Len is. Len, a 7'1" center from the Ukraine, was signed by Turgeon on Monday, giving the Terps another big body to join James Padgett, Ashton Pankey and Berend Weijs up front. Len averaged 16.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.3 blocks in nine games at the 2010 U-18 European Championships, and is talented enough that one coach told Adam Zagoria that Len would be "a lottery pick".

"We are very excited about the addition of Alex to our basketball team," Turgeon said in a statement released by Maryland. "To be able to add a player with his ability so late in the recruiting calendar is good for us. We're fortunate that, prior to our arrival, Alex was being recruited to Maryland. For him to reach this point is a testament to his great family support and his character. I'm looking forward to working with Alex and helping him reach his potential as a player and a person."

Let's tone the hype down a little bit. Let's assume that Len, who will have three seasons of eligibility, is good enough that he has the potential to be a first round pick in three years if he develops. That is still an enormous addition to the Maryland roster this late in the recruiting process.

The Terps have a talented perimeter. Most people believe Terrell Stoglin is in line for a huge sophomore season while both Pe'Shon Howard and Sean Mosley return as well. Throw in freshman Nick Faust, and Turgeon has a dynamic back court to work with. The program is that up front, Maryland was as weak as any high-major program in the country.

All he needs out of Len is for him to rebound, block some shots and be able to hold his own defensively in the post, and Maryland becomes a different team.
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Six highly-touted freshmen that may not be playing this season

Michael Chandler, the jewel of the Central Florida recruiting class, with not be on campus in Orlando this year.

The 6'11" center, who is currently sitting at 50th in our Consensus Recruiting Rankings, has not qualified academically next season. Instead of being a Golden Knight, Chandler will spend next season at prep school. This isn't exactly a surprise; there have been rumblings for a long time that Chandler was never going to get cleared.


The Lawrence North (IN) HS product had a roller-coaster recruitment. He originally committed to Louisville as a sophomore, but backed out of that commitment last May. He then gave a pledge to Xavier, but did not end up signing with Chris Mack's program on signing day last November. After having rumors swirl that he was prepared to commit to UConn, Chandler eventually ended up choosing Central Florida on New Year's Day.

And if things weren't already complicated enough, UCF is currently facing the potential repercussion of using a runner to help land recruits. Chandler had ties with the runner used by UCF head coach Donnie Jones.

Chandler isn't the only elite recruit that could end up having to miss this season.


Kevin Ware, Louisville: Like Chandler, Ware's recruitment was a wild ride. The Atlanta native originally signed with Bruce Pearl at Tennessee, but once the other shoe dropped and Pearl lost his job, Ware wanted out. The 88th ranked recruit according to our Consensus Recruiting Rankings ended up committing to Central Florida, but that commitment never felt terribly strong. The day before Pete Thamel and Pat Forde published their story on the potential recruiting violations at UCF -- which included Ware -- the point guard decommitted. He eventually decided upon Louisville as his next destination.

For Ware, potentially being ruled ineligible has nothing to do with the investigation into his recruitment at UCF and everything to do with his grades.

"It's a very close call, and the NCAA will decide," Pitino told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "Right now he's waiting for his grade to come back from his online testing. Right now we don’t know. So if we don’t get the answer in time … he’ll probably be eligible in January."

Ware was expected to back up Peyton Siva at the point this season.


Shaquille Thomas, Cincinnati: Thomas was one of four players -- and the highest-ranked prospect, at 90th overall -- from NIA Prep in New Jersey to be ruled ineligible academically by the NCAA. There have been concerns about NIA Prep being nothing but a diploma mill for a while, and it seems like little coincidence that this ruling was handed down mere months after the New Jersey Star-Ledger ran this superb profile of the program. Thomas -- as well as Ryan Rhoomes (TCU), Kelvin Amayo (Towson), and Ibn Muhammad -- all plan to appeal the decision.


Dwuan Anderson, Michigan State: Michigan's reigning Mr. Basketball enrolled this summer with the Spartans and was eligible to play during the upcoming season, but he will not enroll for the fall semester and will not be a part of the team during the 2011-2012 season. Anderson's mother died recently.


"The last two years have been a very rough time for me, as I've had to deal with some personal tragedies, including the sickness and death of my mother,” Anderson said in a statement released by MSU. "I've been in counseling as I attempt to cope with these issues, and I plan to undergo further counseling. I want to get all my personal issues in order before moving on to the next stage of my life. I loved being on campus this summer, getting to know and spend time with my teammates and a lot of other great people, but it also made me realize that I need to get some other things together before dealing with the pressures that come with being a college basketball player."

Tom Izzo added in the statement "We know it's been a difficult last few years for Dwaun, culminating with the death of his mother this spring. He’s trying to iron out his personal life before moving on to his collegiate and basketball life. We will be supportive of him throughout this process, understanding there are things in life more important than basketball."


DJ Gardner, Mississippi State: Is there any program in the country that is as messed up at Mississippi State is right now? On the same day that rick Stansbury announced that the decision to leave Renardo Sidney home on the Bulldog's trip to Europe was made by the coaching staff, word got out that highly-regarded freshman DJ Gardner had been kicked off the team. For tweeting.

Gardner, who had just found out that he would be redshirted for the 2011-2012 season, fired off a couple of tweets calling the Mississippi State coaching staff liars and doing so in a not-so-nice way. This came just months after Rick Stansbury had reinstated the right for his players to use twitter. If you've forgotten, Ravern Johnson spouted off on twitter last season.


LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State: Ross, who is the highest-rated recruit on this list at 46th, may not be allowed to suit up for the Buckeyes this season. According to his high school coach, Ross had two grades from his old high school in Jackson, MS, flagged by the NCAA. The issue stems from confusion over a grade. The high school gave him a C when the NCAA believes it should have been a D. That's not good, although the Dispatch does say that could be the result of a changing grade scale.
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Tuesday Morning Dump

- If you read anything today, go check out this story comparing Todd Bozeman and Bruce Pearl.

- UCLA's 2012 recruiting class is really good. But could it be the best ever?

- Maryland landed a commitment from 7-foot-1 Ukranian center Olexsiy Len. Adam Zagoria believes Len could be a potential lottery pick some day. Oklahoma State also appears to have the inside track to another big European.

- Drake's Rayvonte Rice had an opportunity to leave for a bigger program after a very good freshman season. He decided to remain at the MVC school.

- Good read from Ryan Greene on Chace Stanback's summer after a DUI.

- Here is the Draft Express video profile of Steven Adams. The interview is, well, difficult to watch.

- Jay Bilas had an interesting take on VCU.

- Luke Walton isn't the only NBA player back on a college campus. Steph Curry is getting his degree as a graduate assistant at Davidson.

- Jeff Goodman weighs in on Andre Drummond and the year that Jim Calhoun has had

- Stan Van Gundy rips college sports

- BYU players are excited to have Brandon Davies by their side again

- Sam Mellinger says KU's best bet would be to lock at the hip with Missouri, not K-State, during this new batch of conference realignment.

- Steve Fisher was given a four year extension by SDSU, thus preserving his legacy has the leader of the Aztec hoops program

- Mark Emmert gave an interview to the LA Times yesterday

- Former Seton Hall Pirate Kelly Whitney is found guilty in a 2010 home invasion.

- Bob Knight is no longer on the payroll at Texas Tech.

- Interesting read from Marc Spears on Shabazz Muhammad

I'm not sure why this is relevent, nor do I know when this took place. But SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, this is how you finish off a basketball game



This is one of the best mixtapes I've seen this summer:



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Monday, August 29, 2011

Sean Miller is building a title contender in Arizona

It hasn't taken long for Sean Miller to rebuild the Arizona program.

And rest assured, the program needed rebuilding.

After stepping in as the Wildcat's fourth coach in the span of four seasons in 2009, Miller was at the helm when Arizona missed the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the first time that had happened since 1984. It wasn't exactly the way that Miller envisioned starting off his tenure in Tucson, but the struggles didn't last long. As Derrick Williams quickly morphed from a freshmen all-american into a first-team all-american, Arizona turned into a legitimate Final Four contender, blowing out top seeded Duke as the Wildcats came two missed threes from the Final Four.


Postseason success -- and Pac-10 title -- aside, I'm still of the mindset that Arizona's 2010-2011 season was more the result of Miller's lucky break landing Williams, a three-star recruit that slipped through the cracks to Arizona, than of Miller's prowess in repairing the program. He has, however, laid a terrific foundation for the future. The Wildcats will have an intriguing blend of talented youngsters and experienced veterans next years, mixing veteran leaders like Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom with a loaded recruiting class -- PG Josiah Turner (12th in our consensus recruiting rankings), SG Nick Johnson (23rd), F Angelo Chol (58th) and F Sidiki Johnson (85th).

If you think Miller's effort on the recruiting trail was impressive for the Class of 2011, the Class of 2012 is even better. With F Grant Jerrett (29th in our consensus recruiting rankings) and G Gabe York (32nd) already committed, Miller landed his best recruit to date on Monday afternoon, earning a commitment from Brandon Ashley, a talented power forward that currently is sitting at sixth in the consensus recruiting rankings.

And Miller is still heavily involved with Kaleb Tarczewski, another top ten player in the Class of 2012.

Arizona has a chance to win the inaugural Pac-12 title this season, but the real damage they will do is in 2012-2013. This may not mean much to those of you that don't follow recruiting heavily, but take a look at Arizona's (projected) depth chart for the start of the 2012 season

- G: Josiah Turner
- G: Nick Johnson
- F: Kevin Parrom
- F: Brandon Ashley
- C: Angelo Chol
- Bench: Jordin Mayes, Gabe York, Solomon Hill, Sidiki Johnson, Grant Jerrett

And, again, that doesn't include a top ten recruit Miller still has a shot of landing.

That's a program with size, athleticism, a high-powered back court attack and impressive depth. Barring any sudden changes -- players decommitting or transferring, someone getting injured, etc. -- Arizona will be one of the favorites to win the 2013 National Title.

That's an impressive jump for a team that missed the 2010 NCAA Tournament.


Since Brandon Ashley is the guy that committed today, here is a video of him:


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Why is Lon Kruger honoring Dave Bliss?

I love when programs take the time to honor teams and players from the past.

Alumni games, retired jerseys, honorary assistant coaches, everything. I think that it not only is entertaining for the fans -- and hopefully the players -- but its also a terrific recruiting tool. "Once you're part of our program you'll always be a part of our program." Its not a hard sell.

That said, when a program decides to hold these honorary events, they need to make sure that people people involved are worthy. Exhibit A: Oklahoma. From the AP:

More than 100 former players turned out for a reunion weekend that featured a Legends Alumni Game on Saturday. Price and White, the backcourt tandem from the Sooners' 2002 Final Four run, played - albeit on opposite teams - and Griffin came out as a spectator.

Two of Kruger's predecessors, Kelvin Sampson and Dave Bliss, served as opposing coaches in a game that had to be decided in sudden-death overtime.
You read that right.

At an alumni game held to honor the likes of Hollis Price and Quannas White -- the two stars of Oklahoma's last Final Four team -- as well as Blake Griffin, Kruger invited back two coaches that have effectively been black-listed by the NCAA. For Sampson, calling him a persona-non-grata on the Norman campus is not necessarily fair. He got into trouble with the NCAA for making too many phone calls, a rule that was just as silly then as it is now and will not be a violation for that much longer.

Sampson I can understand.

Bliss, I cannot.

Because he is as epic of a scumbag as you will ever come across. I mention this quite a bit, but I always assume everyone knows what Bliss did. For those that don't know, back in 2003 Carlton Dotson shot and killed Patrick Dennehy, teammates on a Baylor team coached by Bliss. In an effort to try and cover-up recruiting violations he had committed -- including paying around $7,000 that wasn't paid for by Dennehy's scholarship -- Bliss tried to get his team and his coaching staff to tell investigators that Dennehy had been selling drugs to get the cash to pay for school. They also failed to tell investigators that two of Dennehy's teammates had threatened him just days before the murder.

Yeah.

That's who Lon Kruger brought in for Oklahoma's alumni game.

If it was me, I would want people to forget that Bliss had been a part of the Oklahoma program.
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VIDEO: Nation's No. 2 recruit brings down a backboard

Mitch McGary is now arguably the best big man in the Class of 2012 with Andre Drummond headed to UConn.

He's also just, frankly, a big man. At the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game out in LA this weekend, McGary brought down a back board with a dunk. He needed 37 stitches:



Yikes.


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So who was Dan Wolken referring to?

On Friday afternoon, the guys over at The Big Lead posted a terrific interview with Dan Wolken, currently a national columnist at The Daily who previously was the Memphis beat writer for the Commercial-Appeal.

If you are a college hoops fan, you have to check it out to see the blitzkrieg he unleashes on Bruce Pearl. But that isn't the only interesting part of the interview. Wolken also drops this bomb:

There's on particular program right now – an elite program that most fans wouldn’t ever guess – that everyone in basketball knows is straight-up paying guys. Will they get caught? I don't know, but the more this stuff gets exposed, the more we can shatter these ridiculous media-fueled notions about who's dirty and who isn't.
My first reaction to read this was similar to what Andy Hutchins had to say -- if "everyone in basketball" knows this, how come no one has gone Charles Robinson on them?

I asked that exact same question last year when the rumors about Anthony Davis getting paid $200,000 started floating around. I got responses from a number of writers, including Wolken. The bottom-line? Trying to get enough accurate information to be able to publish it is a difficult task. The people that are paying high school recruits are good at what they do. They don't leave a paper trail and they don't snitch on each other. Generally speaking, you need someone -- like Louis Johnson, the guy that was forced out of the loop by OJ Mayo -- to come forward, proffer the information and be willing to go on record.

Perhaps the bigger issue, however, is simply time. All of these guys have job responsibilities that go beyond investigative reporting. Wolken is a national columnists that writes about a multitude of sports and travels around the country going to events. Gary Parrish not only has his column at CBSSports.com, he runs a radio show in Memphis. The same can be sad for Jeff Goodman and Mike DeCourcy and everyone else. Their job description doesn't allow them to spend 11 months working on one investigation, which is how long it took Robinson to finish the story on Miami and Nevin Shapiro.

I don't want it to sound like I'm kissing up to this group of writers, because it frustrates me more than anything to constantly hear about what goes on at this level of basketball without actually seeing the news get broken. But there is a reason for it.

Back to Wolken's interview, the more interesting question that most folks will want answered is "who?" Who is the squeaky clean program that is paying players?

Well, based on the way he phrased the statement -- "an elite program" -- I think we can assume that he is talking about a program that is not only a high-major team, but one that is consistently one of the best teams in the country and a constant force on the recruiting trail. Wolken also says that it is a team "most fans wouldn't ever guess", which should tell you about the reputation the program has.

We can eliminate a few elite programs off the bat because, frankly, no one believes they are clean. Kentucky and Memphis can be tossed out as they are both currently riddled with the questions that come with John Calipari. UConn can get thrown out the window as well, as they were just caught using agent to recruit a player. No one believes that coaches like Scott Drew and Bob Huggins are on the up-and-up, either.

There are a couple of other schools I think you can eliminate as well. In the sentence prior to Wolken's money quote, he references both Duke and North Carolina, which I think means we can assume that he wasn't talking about either of those programs. He also mentions Bill Self and Kansas in the following paragraph, so let's toss the Jayhawks out for now.

So who is Wolken talking about?

Ohio State was the first program that jumped out in my head, but given their track record -- Jim Tressel and Jim O'Brien -- they don't quite have a squeaky clean image. The same can be said for Syracuse, who has had seven arrests on team members the past decade that involved an assault against a woman. Arizona has been cleaning up on the recruiting trail, but they are also currently down a scholarship and still on probation stemming from the Lute Olson years.

Could it be a team like Villanova or Texas, who win more recruiting battles than big games? Or what about a program like a Pitt or a Wisconsin, who are run by system coaches? What if, god forbid, it was Butler, with the envelope full of cash in the bathroom at an AAU tournament?

The bottom-line is this: everyone is getting paid. I truly believe that. Take, for example, Kris Dunn's decision to go to Providence. The instant I saw that, the first thought that popped in my head was "I wonder how much they paid him." Because that's the only way that the nation's No. 1 point guard was going to pick Providence over his home-state UConn Huskies, right?

Well, no.

Remember, everyone is paying these recruits. Every program has a bag man to deliver the cash and a booster working to keep that bag full. If, hypothetically, Dunn got offered $10,000 by Ed Cooley in exchange for a commitment, you don't think Dunn could have gone to Jim Calhoun and said I want to go to UConn, but you need to sweeten the deal? You don't think Calhoun or the Huskies would have been able to scratch together a couple of thousand to up their offer?

Dunn didn't pick Providence over UConn because he was (hypothetically) getting paid. He would have gotten paid either way. He picked Providence because he wanted to go to Providence. He picked the Friars because he is close to former UConn assistant coach Andre LaFluer, who is now on Cooley's staff.

That is just an example, but its an example of something that happens everywhere in the country. Wolken could have been referring to, well, anyone. Literally.

If you aren't paying players to come to your school, you're getting beat on the recruiting trail and you're losing games during the season.
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Monday Morning Dump

(Programming Alert: Now that Hurriquake Quakeicane Week is finally over, I need to relay some important news. I will be taking my talents to Europe for the next 12 days. Therefore, @Ballinisahabit will be taking over my Morning Dump duties. I apologize in advance for the lack of linkage and general lack of anything useful you will be provided with over the next two weeks. Hopefully today's dump will serve as a reminder as to what you can expect come season tip-off, which happens to be only 47 days away.)

Anyways, adios and enjoy the links.

- Jason King provides our list-of-the-day: A look at which hoops stars could excel in football

- Another fantastic article on Pat Sumitt and her Alzheimer's diagnosis

- Jimmer Fredette Jimmer'd the future Mrs. Jimmer Fredette ( It's not what you think. I mean, yeah it kinda is, but not really. See...well it depends on...you see...what I'm trying to say is....God Dammit. You know what? I know what you're thinking about and you know what I'm thinking about. but it's that...Well not yet anyways, but it will lead to that. Just click the damn link already)

- Speaking of BYU, the university has decided to reinstate Brandon Davies, who was expelled last spring for violating the school's honor code

- Dan Wolken says there is a big-time university that is "straight up paying players". The Big Lead sat down with "Smokin" Dan Wolken for a fantastic Q&A (I've dubbed him "Smokin" Dan Wolken because he slings hot fire. Not many journalists speak their minds as much as Wolken does. He also happens to be very good at it)

- Andre Drummond reneged on his decision to attend Wilbraham & Monson prep school (Hey! Wait a minute. I played them in high school. I think I may have actually gotten playing time too. They must have gotten a lot better) in favor of UConn. This move boosts the Huskies chances at defending their championship. With the addition of Drummond, UConn will have to take a scholarship away from a returning player. Red shirt-freshman Michael Bradley will be the guy taking one for the team

- Highly-touted recruit Mitch McGary broke a backboard during warm-ups at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game. He needed 37 stitches to close-up the gash caused by the shattered glass

- Matt Norlander continues to update us on the off-season travels of mid-major schools

- Luke Winn provides some statistical input on the best players in the country

- Diamond Leung tells us to watch out for Long Beach State's Casper Ware this season (Seriously, watch out for LBSU. They ran into a hot Santa Barbara team in the Big West tourney last season and lost their chance to dance. But they return a bunch of core players including Ware, who has the potential to repeat as Big West PoY)

- A tremendous story on incoming Rhode Island freshman Jonathan "Sponge" Holton

- Re-live your weekend by reading Gary Parrish's "Five for the Weekend"

- San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher received a four-year extension, due in large part to his team's overwhelming success last season

- Andy Katz thinks that the CAA will benefit if non-Virginia schools win the conference

- Tennessee avoided a post-season ban from the NCAA, and new Volunteers coach Cuonzo Martin is quite happy

- The "Octagon of Doom" is getting some new ink for the hardwood

- Bob Knight stopped coaching at Texas Tech in 2008, but he has remained on the University payroll. But on Wednesday, "The General" will no longer receive paychecks from the school

- A great-read on former-Georgia Tech guard Javaris Crittenton,  who is being investigated for possible murder (Wait, does that mean Agent Zero is off the hook? #FreeGilbert)

- Jay Bilas believes that VCU is poised to join the elite core of mid-major powerhouses (Insiders Only)

- Speaking of Jay Bilas,  here's some great footage of the Twitter All-Star from 1981

- Utah picked up a commitment from Jordan Loveridge

- Kentucky officials are pondering the idea of renovating Rupp Arena. Officials went to Indianapolis to get ideas

- Michigan State recruit Dwaun Anderson will not enroll at the university and won't be a part of the program this season

- Speaking of Anderson, Jeff Eisenberg provides intel on two other freshman who may not play

- forget the scandal that's rocking The U right now. Why? Because the 'Canes frontcourt has been decimated by injury. This isn't what new coach Jim Larranaga was hoping for

- Alabama sophomore center Moussa Gueye tore his ACL and will be out indefinitely

- Coast 2 Coast Recruiting gives us three reasons why Ricardo Ledo should sign with Providence

- Ben Stiller is going to make a comedy out of Cal Tech's 310-game losing streak

- Luke Walton will be talked about this off-season more than most locked-out NBA players

- Loyola-Marymount transfer Kevin young is showing signs of maturity and development early on as a member of the Kansas Jayhawks program

- Oklahoma has become the next big-time program to stage an alumni game

UNLV's Chance Stanback and how his missteps have helped him to mature

- Despite the unknown future of head coach Frank Haith, Missouri got a verbal commitment from former-Central Florida commit Shawn Smith

- Savon Goodman announced his decision to decommit from Villanova before the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game

- Creighton's Gregory Echinique joins the Venezuelan National Team on their journey towards an Olympic birth (good-read)

- Your obligatory "Texas A&M to the SEC" article of the day

- Hoopville arrives late to the "pay for players" party. They also arrive late to the "Is the NCAA starting to get it right?" party

- I know you all have been clamoring for some news and notes about Ryder's off-season, so here it is

- Is U of Seattle the next great WAC powerhouse?

- Take a gander at Oregon State's non-conference schedule

- While we're at it, check out Southern Utah's schedule

- Since we're already talking about the low-majors out west, here's Montana's schedule also

- you know what? Have some Chicago State non-con info too. It can't hurt, right?

- TCU got themselves a SB Nation blog

- Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon sank a hole-in-one over the weekend (Huge news, right?)


Kemba Walker hit another game-winner





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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Andre Drummond reverses course, heads to UConn

In one fell swoop, Andre Drummond was able to not only render our 2012 Consensus Recruiting Rankings obsolete just 10 hours into their existence, he also managed to force UConn into the conversation with Kentucky and North Carolina as the nation's favorite to win the 2012 national title.

Just two weeks after officially announcing that he would be heading to Wilbraham and Monson for another year of prep school, Drummond shocked everyone -- and I mean everyone -- when he sent the following tweet:


The sheer nature of the announcement is what made this such a big deal.

The saga was over. The story was dead. Drummond wasn't ever going to set foot on a college court. And out of the blue, at 7:30 pm on a Friday night that saw most of the eastern seaboard bracing for Hurricane Irene, Drummond is headed to play for Jim Calhoun. Why? One theory involves Kris Dunn, Drummond's AAU teammate. The plan was to attend Wilbraham and Monson together next season, but Dunn -- who committed to Providence yesterday -- opted to return to New London for his senior season.

Before I get into what this means for the Huskies, there are a couple of things to think about. For starters, it will be interesting to see when, exactly, Drummond is actually able to take the court. He has finished all the requirements to be able to enroll at UConn, but he still has to send the paperwork off to the NCAA's clearinghouse. That process could take a while.

The other issue has to do with UConn's scholarship situation -- they don't have any available. They are already dealing with a reduction of three scholarships thanks to the Nate Miles investigation, and Deandre Daniels took the last available spot earlier this summer. Most expect Drummond to have to walk-on.

With Drummond in the fold, UConn now looks like a legitimate threat to repeat as national champions. He'll be joined on the frontline by Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith and Deandre Daniels with Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb and Ryan Boatright holding down the back court. Where last year's club was Kemba-centric, the 2011-2012 Huskies will look quite a bit like the Jim Calhoun teams of the aughts -- a ton of size, even more length and athleticism, and enough perimeter shooting and playmaking to keep from being a one-dimensional basketball team.

(As an aside, has anyone in the country had a better six month stretch than Jim Calhoun? He shocked the world by winning eleven straight games to cut down the nets at both the Big East Tournament and the Final Four, he got Jeremy Lamb to return to school for his sophomore season, he forced out athletic director Jeff Hathaway and now he brings in Andre Drummond on the heels of signing Deandre Daniels. This was a program that had some [admittedly stupid] people questioning whether or not they could recover from the investigation into Nate Miles. Now they are the reigning champs and a favorite to repeat next season despite losing Kemba Walker. Unbelievable.)

At the end of the day, the bottom-line is that Drummond made the correct decision. Not solely to attend UConn, but to head to college in general.

The knock on Drummond is that he's not a competitor, that he gives inconsistent effort far too often. If there is anyone in the country that will run a lack of intensity and focus out of a player, its Jim Calhoun. If Drummond isn't giving his all, he'll be riding the bench.

And don't forget the added bonus of becoming a national name next season. With a loaded in 2012, Drummond is going to want to have a profile. Not only will it make him a more intriguing recruit -- NBA folks will get a chance to see him perform against the best competition in the country, and he'll be able to build a following that will increase the money he can demand from sponsors.

Clearly, Drummond reads B.I.A.H.


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Brandon Davies will be Cougar once more

Andre Drummond wasn't the only big man making national headlines on Friday night.

BYU finally announced that center Brandon Davies will be re-admitted into school and allowed back onto the team this season.

Davies created a national stir back in early March when he was suspended for the rest of the year by BYU for violating the honor code -- reportedly by sleeping with his girlfriend. It may have cost the Jimmer a shot at making the Final Four, a sacrifice that had many saluting BYU for making while also creating just as strong a voice of opposition -- what's so bad about a college kid having sex?


But that's neither here nor there. The bottom-line is that, as expected, Davies will be a Cougar for BYU's inaugural run through the WCC. The importance of Davies to that team cannot be understated. Let's ignore, for a second, the fact that they are losing Jimmer Fredette, a once in a generation talent and lottery pick. Jackson Emery, Fredette's back court side kick, graduated while Kyle Collinsworth, a promising freshman small forward, is going on his Mormon mission next year. Meanwhile Kyle's older brother Chris is coming off of season-ending knee surgery while reserve big men Logan Magnusson and James Anderson have left the program. All told, the Cougars lose three of their top six players and have a key post presence dealing with knee problems.

Without Davies, BYU may have been the fourth best team in the WCC, behind St. Mary's, Gonzaga and Santa Clara.

That's not exactly the way that the Cougars envisioned introducing themselves to their new conference rivals.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

2012 Consensus Recruiting Rankings: Post-July

With Rivals releasing their post-July 2012 recruiting rankings this afternoon, we can now roll out our updated 2012 Consensus Recruiting Rankings.

There isn't much change at the top. Shabazz Muhammad is still the top prospect in the country with Andre Drummond sliding right behind him as the nation's second best prep player. And while Muhammad is the consensus No. 1 recruit, its not technically a consensus; 247 Sports is the only outlet of the five that we compile in our rankings to rank Drummond over Muhammad.


We'll get into the breakdown of our rankings in a bit, but before we do, some housekeeping. For an explanation of how, exactly, we came up with the numbers we did, click here and scroll down to directly below the spreadsheet. The only change, in addition to the new two outlets we have ranked, is that we've now incorporated a column titled change which, you can probably guess, is the difference between where the player was ranked pre-July and post-July.

To find the full rankings on their individual sites: Rivals, Scout, ESPN, CBS, and 247.

Without further ado, hit the jump and check out the 2012 post-July Consensus Recruiting Rankings and our breakdown:



The most interesting debate in these rankings comes at the very top -- Shabazz or Andre.

Most believe that, as of this moment in time, Muhammad is a better basketball player than Drummond. The 6'5" lefty swingman is a freight train attacking the basket with the ability to throw down dunks that sound like a cannon being fired. Once he figures out how to consistently knock down a perimeter jumper, he'll be borderline unstoppable offensively. Drummond, however, may have more potential. His size, athleticism and skill-set leave coaches at every level salivating. The issue with Drummond is that he has developed a reputation -- fair or not -- for coasting and showing a lack of effort. His potential is through the roof (one recruiting analyst told me that if Drummond had, in fact, entered college this fall, he would have been the No. 1 incoming freshman), but does he have the work ethic is reach it?

It begs the question -- do you rank a player based on how good he can be, or how how much of that potential he will eventually tap?

Moving on, perhaps the most interesting player in these rankings is Steven Adams. After a stellar summer and a dominating performance at the Adidas Nations tournament, the native New Zealander and Pitt commit turned into one of the most highly-regarded prospects in this class. He's ranked fifth by Rivals, eighth by Scout, and ninth by 247. But he's not in the either the ESPN or the CBS rankings, which is why he drops all the way down to 50th overall. Adams attended high school in New Zealand until this fall, when he finally enrolled at Notre Dame Prep. That move wasn't made until after both CBS and ESPN had released their rankings. Rest assured, he will be in them the next time they are updated. And his consensus ranking won't be double digits, either.


Despite not being ranked by two different outlets, Adams still jumped up 40 spots, but he still didn't crack the top five in terms of the biggest movers. That award would go to Colorado commit Josh Scott, a center that managed to crack just one top 100 (99th, according to ESPN) in July. After proving he could finished around the rim this July, Scott is now ranked by all five outlets, jumping from 134th to 67th overall, peaking at 47th, again according to ESPN. Jake Layman (up 65 spots), Javan Felix (up 64 spots), Prince Ibeh (up 56 spots) and Tyrone Wallace (up 41 spots) round out the five biggest risers.

Felix is the most impressive name on this list. He wasn't even in our rankings prior to July, but the talent point guard and Texas commit put on a show with his New Orleans-based AAU team during the month.

Perhaps the biggest riser during July was Marcus Smart. Coming into July, Smart wasn't ranked higher than 17th by anyone and sat at 24th overall. After a July where the 6'3" Texas proved to be a versatile and physical winner, he shot up to No. 10 in our rankings and no lower than 15th by any of the five outlets. Providence commit Kris Dunn had a similar ascent. The Connecticut native, and Ed Cooley's point guard of the future at Providence, shot up 21 spots from 41st to 20th and is now regarded as the best point guard in the country no named Kyle Anderson. Danuel House (43rd to 26th), TJ Warren (37th to 23rd) and Sam Dekker (45th to 31st) also shot up the top of the rankings.

Kareem Canty is without a doubt the biggest loser. The native New Yorker was ranked 85th overall -- and as high as 62nd by Scout -- prior to July, but he tumbled (at least) 52 spots and no longer has a place in any of the five top 100 lists we use. Anrio Adams (97th), Jordan Adams (103rd), Jordan Hare (107th) and Skylar Spencer (110th) all fell completely out of the rankings as well.
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Friday Morning Dump

- I'm tired just looking at the lineup for Marathon Madness. But you bet your ass I'm staying up for the whole thing.

- Dana O'Neil profiles Mike Anderson's quick start at Arkansas

- Recruit Ray Lee, who was at Huntington Prep, was charged with rape and kicked off the team.

- Good read from Rivals on Abdul Gaddy

- While most people at focusing on the fact that he said he thinks he should get more credit for eventually telling the truth, no one is mentioning that Bruce Pearl uttered tho words at a barbecue at his house.

- Former-Maryland coach Gary Williams is now making $400K as a school promoter

- Isaiah Armwood to GW

- Just because Charles Jenkins graduated doesn't mean Hofstra is going to take it's foot off the pedal

- Long Beach State has a brutal non-conference schedule. Can they just change their program motto to "No sick days"?

- DePaul assistant coach Bully Garrett had his house robbed by theieves why he was in France with the Blue Demons

- A conference record 189 ACC games will be aired on national television in 2011-2012

- Northwestern wont have an easy time getting their first tournament bid with such a weak non-conference record

- A leaked version of IUPUI's full schedule for 2011-2012

- A solid top-10 list of the biggest cheaters in college hoops history

- Casual Hoya explains why Kyle Anderson must choose Georgetown

- A fantastic "Reactions from the Web" piece on Pat Summit's Alzheimer's diagnosis

- Washington State loses a recruit

- Kenneth Caldwell, the guy that the UCF investigation centers around, went on a rant on twitter yesterday

Typical College Park shenanigans


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

So it was Rick Stansbury's choice to send Renardo Sidney back to Houston?

It appears that, as we speculated back in July, Renardo Sidney's decision not to travel with his Mississippi State on their European tour was not actually his decision.

It was Rick Stansbury's. Check out the quotes Brandon Marcello of the Clarion-Ledger got from Rick Stansbury:

"Let's make sure to get this clear: it was not his decision to go to Houston," Stansbury said. "Everybody understand that. I made that decision, nobody else made that decision. I made the decision, OK? That’s where that is and, again, would I have liked for him to have been on the trip? I would have and it would have been good, but there are some things he had to handle that he hadn’t handled. Since then, he has."

"He fulfilled some obligations he had to have for the team," Stansbury said. "And he did that. So, we'll see if he keeps progressing. We all want to hope and believe he can."

If you've forgotten, Sidney returned to Houston to train -- both mentally and physically -- with John Lucas instead of hopping the pond with his teammates. Lucas, who has a history of substance abuse, has a reputation for being able to straighten out athletes that are trending in the wrong direction. The fact that Sidney made the effort -- whether forced or not -- to train with Lucas is a good sign; that he was in a place where that decision had to be made is not.

Honestly, there isn't much to say about the situation that I didn't write here or here other than this -- Stansbury now has some insurance in the form of Arnett Moultrie.

Moultrie, a transfer from UTEP that sat out last season, dominated during Mississippi State's trip through Europe, averaging almost 17 points and 12 boards. Granted, the competition wasn't exactly up to the level of the SEC, but the performance -- and the numbers (9.8 ppg and 6.7 rpg) he averaged as a sophomore at UTEP -- are enough that Stansbury can feel more comfortable if the worst-case scenario were to arise with Sidney.

Stansbury has a lot riding on Sidney's success -- his reputation, the reputation of his program and his university, his team's success, possibly his job. That's why he risked team chemistry by sending Sidney to better himself as an individual.

Stansbury will still be in trouble if the bottom falls out, but with Moultrie, the ground doesn't look quite as far away.
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VIDEO: Jabari Parker mixtapes hit the web

Jabari Parker is more or less the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country in the Class of 2013.

There are some that believe that the rising junior at Simeon High School (Chicago), where Derrick Rose attended, may be the best high school basketball player in the country, regardless of class. That's debatable. What isn't debatable is that Parker is the most unique blue-chip prospect in the country -- he's also a devout Mormon.

Anyway, the reason I bring all of this up is that a couple of mixtapes of Parker's summer performances have dropped in the last few days. Watch and enjoy:




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West Virginia gets their point guard, Texas swaps out bigs

West Virginia got some big news on Wednesday afternoon as it became official that point guard Jabarie Hinds would be eligible to play this season.

There was some concern that he would not get cleared. Hinds did not travel this summer with West Virginia to Europe as he had to makeup some course work. Bobby Huggins, however, wasn't worried:

"We thought we knew that it was kind of a foregone conclusion (that he would qualify), it was just a matter of time," he told MetroNews Statewide Sportsline. "This time of the year you’ve got football in full swing and (the NCAA) is trying to get football guys on the field, they’re trying to get soccer players on the field and cross country. So, it's a busy, busy time for them."

Hinds will be a nice compliment to Truck Bryant in the back court. Where Bryant is a strong ball-handler and a physical point guard, Hinds thrives on his quickness and ability to beat a defender off the dribble.

Texas, on the other hand, got a bit of bad news.

Incoming freshman Kevin Thomas was declared ineligible by the NCAA. But only hours after that announcement was made, Texas announced that Jaylen Bond had been released from his letter of intent to Pitt.

There was some concern initially that Bond wasn't going to get his release. With him in the rotation, it provides some much-needed depth along the Longhorn's front line, but Rick Barnes is still going to be at a major disadvantage this season. His front court goes four-deep -- two seniors that have never been more than serviceable backups, Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene, and two freshmen, Bond and top 100 recruit Jonathan Holmes.
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Jay Wright dancing to Katy Perry?

I'm not sure how I feel about Flash Mobs.

I think they're kind of corny, but when they pulled off well, its fun to watch. I also think its safe to say that this was pulled off well:



Did you spot Jay Wright?

Go to the 2:00 mark, and watch the tall guy in the dark blue shirt that moves to the front. Yup, that's Jay Wright. Dancing to Katy Perry.

There are no words to describe how awesome that is.

UPDATE: VUHoops.com has a better video:


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Thursday Morning Dump

- Here are a few reactions to the Bruce Pearl announcement that we enjoyed: Rush The Court, Dana O'Neil, Luke Winn, Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander

- A couple of big name recruits committed yesterday -- Kris Dunn is headed to Providence while Shaquille Cleare will be a Terrapin.

- Apparently Missouri's AD read Gary Parrish, because two days after he posted this column, Haith was publicly backed by the school. It may be too little, too late, however.

- Because of some weird rule that Maryland has, Aquille Carr -- who is one of the most entertaining players in the country to watch -- will not be able to travel to the Elite 24 game in California.

- John Calipari isn't the only coach producing professionals

- Jio Fontan is applying for an extra year of eligibility, but not because of the acl injury he suffered.

- Jabarie Hinds was cleared to play at West Virginia.

- Instead of enrolling at Xavier in 2012, Sim Bhullar will be attending New Mexico State as a walk-on next season. He would have done the same at X, but he couldn't afford their $43,000 price tag. More Xavier stuff here.

- I could have answered this question -- Duke paid for their trip to China and the Middle East with money from really, really rich fans.

- Archie Miller took over the Dayton program at the crisp young age of 32

- Frank Martin on twitter is awesome.

- The folks at Texas Tech weren't too pleased with Matt Norlander's post yesterday on Billy Gillispie. They are denying the report from Sports by Brooks about the way Gillispie's staffers left the program.

- Gary Williams to get $400,000 a year in an advisory role in the athletics department at Maryland. Should we call that his pension?

- Verizon FiOS to add the Longhorn Network. This is a pretty big deal.

Wanna see two different Plumlees get yunked on in one mixtape?


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Miami dealt another blow

Frank Martin never officially lobbied publicly for the head coaching job at Miami, but it was obvious to just about everyone involved that he wanted the gig. Martin earned his stripes coaching high school and AAU basketball in Southern Florida and is of Cuban-descent.

It made sense.

And that's why everyone thought Martin would have been a perfect fit and were so confused when he wasn't even considered to replace Frank Haith.

Now, nearly five months after the fact, Martin probably could not be happier that he stayed at Kansas State. For starters, there's the scandal that Charles Robinson and Yahoo! broke wide open last week. And while that story focused on the football, there was a little nugget in there about the Miami program more-or-less buying then-recruit, now-rising senior DeQuan Jones for $10,000. You can probably rest assured that will draw the NCAA's attention. At the very least, every other coach in the country recruiting against Miami will make sure that the kids they are targeting believe as much.

That wasn't the only piece of bad news the Canes got this summer. Back in July, potential All-ACC Reggie Johnson injured his knee and will be out of the lineup until the New Year. And now Julian Gamble, a forward that started 13 games last season, has undergone surgery to repair a torn acl and will be out for the season.

"We feel awful for Julian Gamble," said UM head coach Jim Larranaga said in a statement. "Tearing your ACL is a devastating injury at any time in your career, but particularly in your fifth year of eligibility. Julian is a bright, hard working and competitive athlete. We will do everything we can to support him in his efforts to rehabilitate this injury. We know he will also be there supporting his teammates, because that is just the kind of person he is."

Miami's front court will be in big trouble this year.

They are left, more or less, with two bigs. Kenny Kadji is a former top 50 recruit, averaging 4.4 ppg and 2.7 rpg as a freshman at Florida in 2008-2009. But its been two years since he played a full season (he had back surgery in 2009-2010). The other big is sophomore Raphael Akpejiori, who saw action in just 20 games a year ago.

I don't think Larranaga's tenure at Miami could have gotten off to a worse start, but I'm positive Martin isn't concerned about not getting that job anymore.
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Did DJ Newbill do Southern Miss dirty?

From the outside, you'd think that the Southern Mississippi fan base and administration would be mad at DJ Newbill.

Newbill had a terrific freshman campaign, averaging 9.2 ppg and 6.2 rpg for the Golden Eagles as a 6'4", 205 lb guard. Newbill, who was without a scholarship as late as mid-July in 2010, started all 32 games and played over 30 mpg. Not bad for a late-addition to your program.

But Newbill will not be finishing his career at Southern Mississippi. He announced earlier this week that he would be transferring to Penn State and new head coach Pat Chambers to finish out his career, sitting out the 2011-2012 season per transfer rules.

"D.J. will make an immediate impact on our program with his toughness, basketball IQ and work ethic," Chambers said in a statement. "It's great to get a Philadelphia kid that is passionate about Penn State basketball and wants to be here. We are very confident he will show that a Philadelphia player can have great success and an outstanding career at Penn State."


Like I said, its easy for USM to be mad at Newbill. Here's a kid that was given a chance by Larry Eustachy that jumped ship to a bigger program after one successful season and just 32 games with the Golden Eagles. From the surface, it looks like Newbill is ungrateful, that he's just another spoiled, selfish athlete out to get his.

Saying that ignores the reason that Newbill was forced to go to Southern Miss in the first place.

Back in March of 2010, Newbill -- a Philly native -- signed with Marquette. He called it his dream school. But three months later, when a former top 100 recruit and Wisconsin native named Jamil Wilson decided he wanted to return home to finished out his collegiate career, Buzz Williams needed a scholarship. Newbill, who had signed a Letter of Intent, was the one on the chopping block. Marquette used some cover story about Newbill's academics and cut ties.

Now, as I explained in detail in this post from a year ago, I don't necessarily have a problem with Newbill being cut. It happens. What I do have a problem with is the LOI system that locks a player into a school but allows the school to drop the player when someone better comes along.

Newbill got screwed by the system.

For a Philly native that had chosen to go to college in the state of Wisconsin, I think its safe to say that attending college in Hattiesburg, MS, was not exactly his first choice. But at the time, he didn't exactly have many options. Eustachy offered him a lifeline, if you will; an opportunity to continue his education while playing a high-level of collegiate basketball.

Newbill took advantage of that opportunity, but with a chance to return to his native Pennsylvania, play for a guy that cut his teeth in Philly in Chambers, and get the exposure that the Big Ten brings, it only makes sense Newbill made the jump.

Did Southern Miss get screwed? Probably. Did they get taken advantage of? I'm sure some can make that argument, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree.

But can you really be mad at Newbill? If it wasn't for the hypocrisy of the LOI program, he never would have been in that position.
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