SEC Basketball Tournament - Vanderbilt v Kentucky

Four-star forward Damian Jones commits to Vanderbilt

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The headliner for the Texas Titans on the spring/summer circuit for the last few years has been Julius Randle and with good reason, as he’s one of the top 2013 prospects in the country.

After Randle there’s 2013 Duke commit Matt Jones, hailed by many as one of the best perimeter shooters in the class and a very good defender as well.

But the Titans had another prospect in 6-9 forward Damian Jones who isn’t as polished as Randle but his upside pushed him into the top 100 in multiple rankings.

On Sunday Jones verbally committed to Vanderbilt, deciding after his visit to the Nashville campus he’d seen all that he needed to according to

A native of Baton Rouge, Jones also held offers from LSU, Florida, Georgia, Kansas State, Oklahoma, St. John’s and Stanford according to

Jones has designs on being an electrical engineer down the line, and according to US News & World Report the school’s engineering department is ranked 34th nationally.

Vanderbilt is now on the board in the 2013 class, and with no seniors on the 2012-13 roster Jones figures to be joining an experienced team next year.

video h/t to Busting Brackets

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?