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N.C. State’s search for a new coach will be fun to follow

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To the surprise of few, Sidney Lowe was kindly relieved of his duties as North Carolina State’s head coach this afternoon, “resigning” after five NCAA Tournament-less seasons in Raleigh.

Immediately this afternoon, rumors and unfounded reports matriculated around the interwebs suggesting possible replacements. Already, we’re hearing Arizona’s Sean Miller, Texas’ Rick Barnes, and Georgia’s Mark Fox as coaches that both the school and local media may be interested in bringing in to man the sidelines at the RBC Center.

But here’s the caveat to all these lofty names: NC State is not a destination for premier head coaches…and this preliminary speculation is laughable.  So give me a day to enjoy this, then I would appreciate if the entire Wolfpack athletic department and community dial down their expectations for a known commodity to come in and infuse excitement into the basketball program.

Locally, the NC State head basketball not only competes for face time, he competes for talent. With the exception of the late signing of C.J Leslie in 2010, the last homegrown McDonalds All-American to sign with the Wolfpack was Scooter Sherrill in 2000. Do you even remember him?  I was even tweeted that NC State is the “fourth best coaching job in the ACC.” Not only this that up for debate, it’s probably not something to really even boast about.

So how should the athletic department diagram this up?  If they can’t get the recently relieved Jeff Capel – who will certainly rebound after an ugly two seasons in Norman – I suspect the next the head coach of NC State will come from the lowest seeded low-/mid-major team that reaches the second weekend of the upcoming tournament.  The Wolfpack, after striking out trying to lure a few BCS-conference coaches already with a seven-figure contract and secure gig, will panic, and likely pluck college basketball’s latest sweetheart, a coach likely blinded by the opportunity to coach with a higher salary,  budget, and recruiting breadth, overlooking the challenges that await.

Nearly every year, this sort of instant success has propelled lesser known coaches to much higher ground. We’ve seen it with a bevy of names – some for better or worse. Guys like Dan Munson, Bruce Pearl, Todd Lickliter, Stan Heath, have all climbed the coaching ladder quicker than others due primarily because of coaching a Cinderella.

Bottom line, I’m excited to watch it unfold, if not for the pure unintentional humor it provides. If Oregon can’t get Tom Izzo, North Carolina State can’t get whoever the heck they’re salivating over on this very evening.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.