Two students sit inside an empty classroom at Madrid's El Espinillo high school during a general students' strike

College hoops grades are making news


It’s a long weekend, and college sports hounds are focused on baseball tournaments and the upcoming College World Series. Therefore, stories about college hoops are few and far between at the moment. Of the writers who have cast an eye toward college hoops, many have focused on academics, as terms end and grade point averages are calculated. So, what the heck, let’s see what’s on everyone’s mind.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats not only nailed down a national title with a raft of freshmen, but they secured a very respectable team GPA as well. A 3.12 may not sound super-impressive until you consider the context. Historically speaking, some one-and-done players have quite simply given up during the second semester, secure in the knowledge that they were planning to declare for the NBA. John Calipari told the newspaper that his freshmen were “well above 3.0”.

And how about the academic culture at the national runner-up? Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World reports that KU’s highly-anticipated 6’8″ forward Perry Ellis graduated from Wichita Heights high school with a perfect 4.0 and served as one of four valedictorians for his graduating class. Perry also served as a volunteer in support of child literacy and was a motivational speaker for young people in Wichita.

The news is not so good at San Diego State. The Aztecs are concerned about  rising APR standards, for a very good reason. Steve Fisher is recruiting Norvel Pelle, a 6’11” behemoth who was scheduled to go to St. John’s before academic issues derailed his plans. Per the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The NCAA Clearinghouse never approved him academically and Pelle ultimately de-committed, spending the year bouncing from prep academy to prep academy. At last check he was reportedly taking online classes while continuing to seek academic clearance from the NCAA.

Mid-majors often live or die on their ability to take in academic refugees and tweeners, so this could make things much tougher in Viejas Arena.

Finally, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported on Cuonzo Martin’s continuing attempts to clean up the mess left behind by Bruce Pearl. Progress has been incremental, but it’s going the right direction. According to the paper, team GPA was 2.25 in the spring of 2011, then increased to 2.37 in the fall of that year. The spring 2012 number went up to 2.55. Not quite Kentucky numbers (on the court or off), but a definite improvement.

Alright, let’s stop talking numbers. Play some catch in front of a sizzling grill on your speedboat for me, will ya?

SMU won’t appeal tournament ban, Brown suspension

Associated Press
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Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.

Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.

“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.

“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”

Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.

This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.

Kevin Marfo commits to George Washington

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Kevin Marfo committed to George Washington on Friday evening, announcing his decision on Twitter.

“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” he tweeted.

This caps a successful week for Mike Lonergan on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, GW landed a commitment from Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 point guard. He is the son of former GW guard Shawnta Rogers, the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. GW ends the week by adding a tenacious rebounder to a front court that graduates top rebounder Kevin Larsen after this season. Rogers and Marfo join power forward Collin Smith in the Class of 2016. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina will also be eligible in 2016-17.

He cut his list to 10 in August with Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Boston College, UMass, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul, Rhode Island and Providence all making the cut along wit the Colonials. He later trimmed the list to five finalists: BC, Providence, DePaul, GW and Rhode Island.

The Worcester Academy (Mass.) forward played for BABC this summer in the Nike EYBL, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.  The 6-foot-8 Marfo is listed as the No. 148 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.