Nebraska’s overseas ties help land top New Zealand guard

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After Tim Miles took the Nebraska job, it was easy to wonder how he was planning to upgrade the talent level in Lincoln. With outstanding facilities balanced by a lack of a nature recruiting ground, the Huskers’ aren’t exactly a destination location.

Some insight was provided as Miles named former Saint Louis assistant coach Chris Harriman to his staff, a native Australian who is noted for overseas recruiting prowess. As Harriman was hired, it became apparent that at least one or two of the new players that would end up at Nebraska would be international prospects in the 2013 class.

Harriman and Nebraska struck on Tuesday with a key international pledge, landing a pledge from 6-2 point guard Tai Webster, according to multiple reports. As a 17 year old player on New Zealand’s National Team, Webster put up compelling stats in a FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament, with 13 points per game and 52 percent shooting. Webster also has some boosters among those that watch basketball on a global level, and he is said to be an instant impact recruit at Nebraska.

Webster is great pickup, if he lives up to his advance billing. He’s part of a solid three man class that have all committed to Nebraska in less than two weeks, joining wings Nick Fuller and Nathan Hawkins. Fuller is the best candidate to be the recipient of some of Webster’s passes, as he is a knock down shooter off the catch and a top-150 player nationally. There’s significant geographic diversity, as Fuller hails from Wisconsin and Hawkins is a Texas native.

Miles still has some scholarship room to work with in the 2013 class, and he did pick up his share of high-profile transfers at Colorado State. He’s made no secret of attempting to make inroads in Chicago, and there’s always an international sleeper or two to be found. If Miles can get talent on campus to see the sparkling facilities, there’s a decent chance that he’ll have the talent incoming to put the program on the upswing in the treacherous ranks of the Big Ten.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

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?