Big East Basketball Tournament - West Virginia v UCONN

Sophomore wing Jeremy Lamb leaving UConn for NBA

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Connecticut’s had 13 players leave early for the NBA during Jim Calhoun’s coaching tenure. Sophomore Jeremy Lamb will be the 14th.

The lanky wing announced his decision Tuesday, which doesn’t come as a huge surprise. He could’ve come out last season after the Huskies’ run to the national title and been a first-round pick. Lamb might be a lottery selection this season.

“It was a difficult decision, but after much prayer and discussion with my parents, I feel that it’s in the best interest of me and my family to declare myself eligible for the upcoming NBA Draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball,” Lamb said in a statement.

The 6-5 All-Big East player averaged 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds a game during UConn’s uneven season. He’s not aggressive and doesn’t take over games, but there’s no denying that with his size, long arms and shooting stroke, Lamb will be a tantalizing prospect for any pro team.

“It’s never easy to lose a great player from your program, but Jeremy has a unique opportunity that he needs to take advantage of,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said in a statement. “He’s been a great kid to coach for the past two years … his teams have won 52 games, been to two NCAA tournaments, and won a national championship. I look forward to him developing into a terrific player in the NBA and secondly, as he’s promised me, to come back and finish his degree.”

Lamb might not be the first UConn player selected in 2012, though. Center Andre Drummond is expected to be a top 10 selection if he declares for the draft.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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?