NCAA Basketball Tournament - Xavier v Baylor

Grad transfer rule has to remain as long as we have “student”-athletes

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I can honestly say that I can go either way when it comes to the graduate transfer exemption.

For those that are unaware, the rule is simple: if an athlete completes their undergraduate degree with eligibility remaining, they can transfer to another school without being forced to sit out for a year so long as the athlete pursues an advanced degree at his new school.

The rule is the reason that Arizona was able to land former Xavier guard Mark Lyons for the 2012-2013 season, bridging the one-year gap between Josiah Turner’s dismissal from the program and Duquesne transfer TJ McConnell becoming eligible to play in 2013-2014. It is also why Kentucky was able to shore up their back court depth by adding former Wright State (by way of NC State) guard Julius Mays. Brandon Wood (Valpo to Michigan State), Sam Maniscalco (Bradley to Illinois) and Jeff Peterson (Florida State from Arkansas by way of Iowa) took advantage of the rule last season.

Like I said, I can go either way on the matter.

On the one hand, I think it is fair to allow a player that has completed his degree an opportunity to transfer without having to sit out for a season. They put in the work, they should be rewarded. On the other hand, I can see the frustration that comes with developing a player for three or four years only to see them leave the program at the peak of their collegiate career.

And while any power that a school or the NCAA has over a player’s decision to transfer bothers me, I will admit that I am not totally comfortable with the precedent being set by Mays. He enrolled at NC State, couldn’t get minutes in his first two seasons, transferred down to Wright State where he spent a year developing his skill and another year building his confidence while torching the Horizon League before ultimately transferring back up to the highest level of the sport. Three schools in five years is a little much, even for a self-proclaimed, college basketball liberal.

That said, the way the NCAA is currently designed, the grad transfer rule simply cannot be changed.

At least not until the kids that play college sports are no longer referred to as “student”-athletes.

These kids are supposed to be students first, right? They are supposed to be using their athletic talents to pay for an education that is getting more and more expensive, aren’t they? Isn’t that the ideal that the NCAA is based on? Isn’t that the entire reason that basketball and football players that are responsible for generating obscene amounts of revenue — the money that has warped the landscape of college sports in an armageddon known as realignment — have to fight tooth and nail just to get full cost of attendance scholarships? Isn’t that the entire reason that the NCAA doesn’t have to pay taxes and can call themselves a non-profit?

Well, if these athletes are “students” first, then there is no justifiable reason to block their ability to further that education. These kids aren’t just transferring and auditing ballroom dancing classes. They are pursuing advanced graduates degrees. I don’t have an advanced graduate degree. I wouldn’t mind having one, though. It probably would make my potential earnings increase, just like it could help Mark Lyons’ increase his value to an employer once his basketball career ends.

Because the whole point of his scholarship to play basketball is to prepare him to go pro in something other than sports.

Right?

Look, if the NCAA wants to change how they view these athletes, than I have no problem with eliminating the rule. If they want to pay these athletes and acknowledge the fact that the reason these kids are in school is because of how fast they can run or how high they can jump or how well they can shoot, that’s fine. Make them sign a contract that stipulates where and when they are allowed to transfer. I’m fine with that.

But barring the NCAA changing their party line, there is no justification for eliminating the graduate transfer rule.

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

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.

VIDEO: Rupp Arena’s new video board arrives

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Rupp Arena is getting a makeover. Take a peak as the new video board arrives and is put together:

Five-star freshman ruled ineligible to play for Villanova this season

Jay Wright
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Omari Spellman will not be eligible to play for Villanova this season, the school announced on Friday morning.

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.”

“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

Spellman is a top 20 recruit that played for St. Thomas More this past season. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Spellman was going to be counted on to play a major role in replacing Daniel Ochefu, the 6-foot-11 center that graduated this past spring. Without Spellman, Villanova will have to rely on inconsistent senior Darryl Reynolds to man their front line.

It is worth noting, however, that Reynolds did average 9.0 points and 10.6 boards in three games Ochefu missed last year. That was the first time in his career that he was given consistent minutes.

Spellman will be allowed to continue to practice with Villanova as he takes an academic redshirt.