NCAA Basketball Tournament - Belmont v Georgetown

Otto Porter and Georgetown looking to return to the Big Dance

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Otto Porter entered college as an unknown player to some given the fact that he came from a small town in Missouri and didn’t go through the AAU ringer that so many kids participate in annually.

But by the end of his freshman campaign the Sikeston, Missouri native was a key figure in the Georgetown rotation and one of the best freshmen in the Big East.

With Jason Clark, Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson all moving on, Porter will have to be one of the leaders for John Thompson III’s team if they’re to remain an NCAA tournament team.

“It changes a lot but it’s not just me, it’s everybody,” said Porter in Las Vegas last weekend, where he took part in the LeBron James Skills Academy.

“Everybody has to step up and lead, and I [also] have to come in and work hard everyday.”

Despite starting just eight games last season Porter was third in minutes with an average of 29.7 minutes per game, while also leading the way in rebounds (6.8 rpg) and averaging 9.7 points per game.

And while he wasn’t involved in the same number of possessions as the three departed Hoyas, it was Porter who led the team in offensive rating (117.7 per

Markel Starks returns and should have a better grasp of what’s expected of him at the point in the Georgetown system, and the same can be said for Mikael Hopkins and Jabril Trawick in regards to their comfort levels as well.

Add in talented newcomers such as forward Brandon Bolden and guards Stephen Domingo and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, and the Hoyas will have a team that will have talent if not experience.

Where they’ll have to get it done is on the defensive end of the floor, and Georgetown was one of the best in the Big East last season in that regard.

Opponents shot 38.7% from the field and 27.9% from three, with the latter number being tops in the conference.

Many are pegging Georgetown to be a team in the middle of the pack in the Big East due to the lack of experience, but with players like Porter it’s possible for the Hoyas to be a pleasant surprise.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two¬†appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?