NCAA Basketball Tournament -  Western Kentucky v Kentucky

Not all transfer restrictions are due to vengeful AD’s and coaches

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For the past couple of weeks, I’ve railed against the way the NCAA’s transfer rule is currently set up.

Over and over and over and over again. Frankly, it’s tiresome. I write the same thing every single time. “School A and/or Coach B abused their power by preventing Player C from transferring out of the program in yet another example of what’s wrong with the NCAA.”

Today’s will be differently. Slightly.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com published a column that tried to explain exactly why some of these players have their transfer denied. And in the case of Southern Illinois’Treg Setty and Western Kentucky’s Vinny Zollo, the answer is simple: their grades aren’t good enough. Setty has a GPA hovering around a 2.5, while Zollo checks in with a 2.4. All things considered, those aren’t terrible grades to get. Both players are freshmen, and maintaining a B- average during your first semester in college when you are a scholarship basketball player is far from awful. It keeps them eligible to play, which, in the end, is all that really matters for a first-year player that still believes they are on the fast-track to NBA superstardom.

“It’s detrimental to me,” Zollo told CBSSports.com. “I can talk to other schools, but those restrictions make it difficult for anyone to take me right now. I don’t think it’s fair and don’t understand why they are doing it. I’m eligible by the NCAA to transfer and should be fine.”

The problem that Zollo doesn’t understand is that neither player has a GPA of 2.6, and that last couple of tenths of a point are so important.

According to the APR, if a player leaves the program for any reason — including a transfer — with a GPA below 2.6, the program gets docked a point. The way the APR is measured is complicated (a very good breakdown of what got UConn in trouble can be found here, and that should give you a clear understanding of how the APR is measured), but the gist is that if a program averages a deduction of about four points every year, they will end up finding themselves below the requirement of a four-year rolling average of an APR of 930.

What program wants to risk that?

Missing out on the postseason can be devastating. Look at what’s happening to UConn. The Huskies have been arguably the best program in the country over past 13 seasons, winning three national titles, advancing to a fourth Final Four, sending countless players to the NBA and continually hanging banners in the always-tough Big East. But with a postseason ban looming for the 2012-2013 season, the UConn program is on the brink of collapsing. Granted, there are mitigating factors — Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb may have entered the draft regardless, Jim Calhoun’s health problems didn’t change — that exacerbate the issue, but the bottom line is that next season could end up setting the UConn program back a decade.

A 2.6 GPA is not a terribly difficult goal to achieve, and the result of allowing a player to transfer out of the program with less than a 2.6 is detrimental to the program as a whole.

I don’t blame the AD’s in either of these cases one bit for denying the player’s release for a transfer, especially since both schools have made it very clear to their players they will be released if they get a 2.6. Zollo even got it in writing.

The fact that schools are allowed to hold players hostage by restricting where they can transfer and remain on scholarship is unfair and a terrible rule that needs to be changed. But the APR isn’t exactly a perfect rule, either, and if losing a player to a transfer means that the school in question will get dinged on their APR score, than I think it is within reason to allow the school’s to protect their own interests.

“It puts you in a precarious situation,” Mario Moccia, SIU’s athletic director, said. “All we’re saying is get a 2.6. If we just let them go, kids aren’t going to get the grades.”

This isn’t a secret. It’s not difficult to figure any of this out. Googling is easy. Asking your high school or college coaching staff is even easier. And 2.6 GPA’s are not that difficult to get, especially for a student-athlete.

Allowing schools to have control over where their players can transfer is unfair. But enabling players to walk away and leave their old program on the verge of a postseason ban while the school can only stand and watch is also unfair.

In this case, blame the system. Don’t blame Southern Illinois or Western Kentucky for protecting their programs.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.