Report: NCAA officials visited Massachusetts in regards to Nerlens Noel

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According to a report from Pete Thamel of the New York Times, the NCAA sent two members of its enforcement staff to Everett High School (MA) this week to look into the people surrounding Nerlens Noel. Noel, who is currently at The Tilton School in New Hampshire, attended Everett for his freshman and sophomore years.

The officials met with Everett High principal Louis Baldi and Leo Papile, who runs the BABC summer team that Noel played on, as they attempted to determine the nature of Noel’s relationship with Chris Driscoll, a former assistant coach at Providence, and Errol Randolph:

Driscoll was barred this year from campus at the Tilton School, the New Hampshire boarding school where Noel has spent the past two years and is completing his final year of high school.

Tilton officials expressed concern earlier this year that Driscoll did not have Noel’s best interests at heart. Driscoll has denied the allegation, and he did not return a call seeking comment.

N.C.A.A. officials also planned to find out about Noel’s relationship with Errol Randolph, a former substitute teacher at Everett High School who is another of Noel’s advisers, according to the person briefed on the inquiry. Until recently, Randolph had a link on his LinkedIn page that directed people to the Web site of the sports agency run by the prominent basketball agent Andy Miller. The link to Miller’s ASM Sports Web site have since been removed.

There are also questions about unofficial visits that Noel paid for out of pocket to Kentucky and to Louisville. More background on Noel’s recruitment can be found here.

Big Blue Nation despises Pete Thamel, believing that he has an agenda against John Calipari and will stop at nothing to try and bring him down. (Check the comments here, it should get pretty entertaining.) But what Thamel is reporting here is neither a surprise nor that big of a deal.


Essentially, the news is that the No. 1 recruit in the country is being investigated by the NCAA. In this day and age, the NCAA would not be doing their job if they didn’t look into the recruitment and the amateurism of the No. 1 recruit in the country, especially in Noel’s case. There are red flags surrounding his days as a high schooler, and those red flags were written about in the New York Times. The fact of the matter is that every recruit at Noel’s level is going to have some unsavory people circling around them, looking for a way to make a couple dollars, and it’s the NCAA’s job to determine whether or not any rules were violated in the process.

All this report tells us is that the NCAA has begun looking into Noel.

It will be relevant if/when they find something punishable.

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

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.