Khris Middleton

Report: Khris Middleton leaving Texas A&M for NBA draft

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Per’s Jeff Goodman, Texas A&M forward Khris Middleton will be leaving school for the NBA draft.

If the report is accurate, the decision is likely to be roundly criticized. Middleton averaged 13.2 points and just over 5 boards per game for an Aggie squad that, quite frankly, underachieved badly, finishing 14-18 on the season, and winning just four games in the Big 12. At 6’7″ and 210 lbs., Middleton doesn’t have prototypical pro size, and he has not, to date, shown exceptional skill as a ballhandler, shooter or defender, either. He took just 77 shots in an injury-shortened junior season in College Station, making 20, and is projected by most recruiting analysts to be no better than a second-round pick.

Middleton’s third season at A&M was his first under Billy Kennedy, so this may be delayed fallout from the coaching change precipitated by Mark Turgeon’s late-breaking move to Maryland in 2011.  The Aggies were already in a rough spot, losing seniors David Lobeau and Dash Harris to attrition, but the defection of Middleton will leave the team dangerously short of proven frontcourt talent. Kennedy has landed 2012 commits from three highly-rated guards, but has only the hilariously-named 6’5″ Billydee Williams in his sights for a frontcourt position. Expect A&M to pursue a game-ready JuCo player or two if Middleton flies the coop.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?