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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.

Yet.

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.

Kennedy Meeks to return to North Carolina

Kennedy Meeks
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks announced on Wednesday that he would be withdrawing his name from NBA Draft consideration.

“I’m thankful I had the chance to explore my draft options, but I’m excited about the opportunity to rejoin my teammates and work toward having another outstanding season at UNC,” says Meeks. “I appreciate the support my coaches and teammates gave me during this process as we gathered information about my professional opportunities at this time. The feedback on what I have to work on so that I can have a great senior year, help my team have a great season and be ready to take that next step is invaluable.”

Meeks did not get an invitation to the NBA Draft combine, which is a pretty clear indication that he did not have a real chance to get drafted this year. But the new rule allows him to gather feedback on what he needs to do to improve and get himself into a position where he can land a professional contract after he graduates next season.

As a junior, Meeks battled injury but still managed to average 9.2 points and 5.9 boards.

Louisville students’ lawsuit against escort is dismissed

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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A Louisville judge has dismissed a lawsuit by University of Louisville students filed against Katina Powell that said the escort’s book allegations of sex parties at the men’s basketball players’ dormitory had devalued their education.

Kyle Hornback and three other students sued Powell last fall, saying her book damaged the school’s reputation. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry denied their argument in Friday’s decision but allowed others who joined the suit after being named in the book to file amended complaints that they were falsely accused and defamed.

Powell has said that former Cardinals basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to entertain recruits and players. Several investigations are ongoing including one by Louisville, which self-imposed a postseason ban and reduced scholarships and recruiting opportunities.

Report: Wichita State approaches Mountain West

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A year ago, Wichita State president John Bardo called for the school to study the feasibility of bringing football back to the athletic program.

Apparently the Shockers administration has even grander designs.

Wichita State has approached the Mountain West Conference about membership, according to a report from CBSSports.com.

The Missouri Valley Conference, which has been the Shockers’ home since 1946, is aware of Wichita State’s interest in switching conference affiliation, the report states. The Mountain West would makes sense for the Shockers as the conference currently has an odd-number hoops membership of 11 and would provide them with higher-profile opponents than the Valley. Just twice in conference history has the MWC been a one-bid NCAA tournament team, with last year being the first since 2001 for it to occur. The Shockers are also reportedly eyeing other leagues, like the AAC and Conference USA.

MWC commissioner Craig Thompson told CBS Sports that if Wichita State were to leave the Valley, “it ain’t going to be to us.”

Wichita State, which dropped football in 1986, has seen its basketball profile skyrocket in recent years under Gregg Marshall, who led the Shockers to a Final Four and a 35-0 start to the season in back-to-back years before reaching the Sweet 16 in 2015 and the Round of 32 last year. Marshall now makes more than $3 million per season.

Losing Wichita State would be a considerable blow to the Valley, which already lost perennial power Creighton to the Big East in the last round of realignment. Loyola Chicago, formerly of the Horizon League, filled the Bluejays’ spot.

Michigan’s Chatman transferring

Michigan  guard/forward Kameron Chatman (3) passes against Northwestern during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
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Kameron Chatman is leaving the Michigan program after two seasons, the school announced Tuesday.

The 6-foot-8 forward will transfer following a sophomore season in which his minutes were halved from his freshman campaign.

“I am incredibly grateful for my two years at Michigan,” Chatman said in a statement released by Michigan. “I would like to thank coach (John) Beilein and his entire staff for taking a chance on a small town kid out of Portland. I know my experience has inspired others as I will take all of my lessons learned to continue my pursuit of becoming the best man and player I can.”

Chatman is now the fourth Wolverine to transfer this spring, as Spike Albrecht (Purdue), Aubrey Dawkins (Central Florida) and Ricky Doyle have already departed. The Wolverines, who still have not announced replacements for assistant coaches LaVall Jordan (Milwaukee) and Bacari Alexander (Detroit), have been active in graduate transfer market as they look to rebuild much of their depth on the perimeter.

Chatman, who was a top-50 recruit out of high school, averaged 3.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game for Michigan. He made 15 starts as a freshman, but only two as a sophomore.

Gilmore leaving VCU

Will Wade (AP Photo)
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Sophomore forward Michael Gilmore is transferring from VCU, the school announced Tuesday.

Gilmore started 18 games and appeared in 55 total for the Rams, but never carved out more than a marginal role, averaging 11.5 minutes per game as a sophomore after 6.3 his freshman season. He averaged 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game this past year as he saw his role dwindle down the stretch for the Rams.

His departure will take away some interior depth for VCU, but coach Will Wade will still be returning the bulk of the team that tested eventual Final Four participant Oklahoma in the Round of 32 a month ago.

For Gilmore, he’ll likely have plenty of suitors despite the pedestrian numbers he posted over the last two years as 6-foot-10 forwards who have shown the ability to space the floor don’t hit the transfer market with great regularity.He was a consensus four-star recruit in the Class of 2014.