Why are we focused on Fab Melo’s academics?

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It’s far from a secret for college basketball fans that Fab Melo had a tough time academically during his sophomore season at Syracuse.

In January, he was suspended for three games — including the Orange’s first loss of the season to Notre Dame — for an academic issue, one that reared its ugly head again in March, which is why Melo sat out the NCAA tournament.

And, as you might expect, the rookie has been hearing it from seemingly everyone in Boston. According to this report from ESPN Boston, Celtic GM Danny Ainge asked Melo if his business advisor Rodrigo was also his academic advisor. Head coach Doc Rivers said on ESPN Radio interview with Mike Lupica that “We have no tests” and that “we’re going to introduce you tomorrow and we’re going to do a Read to Achieve thing (with young students). Are you OK with that?”

Hilarious if you ask me.

I can’t wait to hear what Kevin Garnett has to say to Melo if he shows up late for practice or forget what he’s supposed to do on a specific play.

To his credit, Melo seems to be taking the ribbing in stride.

“It’s not a concern at all,” Melo said of his academic record. “I did what I had to do on the basketball court, my responsibilities, stuff like that. I did. I struggled with the school. And I don’t have to go to class now, so that’s something coach or the coaching staff won’t have to worry about.”

At this point, you have to hope that Melo’s career pans out. As Orange Fizz put it, “dumb and proud of it is no way to go through life.”

The irony here is that Melo’s academic record would be the second biggest concern I have about him as a prospect. No one seems particularly concerned about the fact that Melo had a “volatile relationship” with his girlfriend in college, one in which he was “physically violent four or five times” and resulted in his getting arrested. The episode seems quite disturbing:

About 9 a.m. on May 30, she and Melo got into an argument over a phone call she received from a male friend. Melo demanded she call back the male and tell him that she did not want to talk with him anymore because she was dating Melo.

She said she called and told the man she couldn’t hang out with him anymore. Melo became mad, she said, because she didn’t make it sound like she was voluntarily calling off the communication.

Later in the day, she told police it appeared that Melo had calmed down. About 1:40 p.m., in Melo’s apartment, he was showing her pictures using his MacBook computer. He asked her if he could see her Facebook wall. She said she agreed providing that Melo not get angry at what he reads.

Melo became angry after reading two comments from two different men on the Facebook wall, she said. Melo threw down his computer on the floor, damaging it. As soon as he realized he had damaged it, he began throwing it against the walls.

She went to the apartment’s bathroom and shut the door. She soon left the bathroom, grabbed her belongings and left the apartment. She was in her car when Melo came out of the apartment, picked up some dirt and threw it on her. Melo walked behind the car and demanded she open the trunk.

She refused.

Melo approached the driver’s side, reached in the window and snapped off the turn signal control arm, which also controlled the car’s wipers and high beams.

She noticed Melo was bleeding from the hand.

“Here, you want my blood,” she quoted Melo as saying as he smeared blood on her shirt.

But you’re right. Bad grades are a much bigger issue.

 

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

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Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

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Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

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The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.

North Carolina releases response to latest NCAA Notice of Allegations

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North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.

On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.

What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.

“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”

“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”

The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.

A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.

No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline in early June by the NCAA after an investigation.

Louisville has imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches.