Report: Ugly details of Billy Gillispie’s mistreatment of Tech players

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The news broke on Friday.

Billy Gillispie, the man who was the hottest coach in the country back in 2007 when he was hired by Kentucky, was on the verge of losing his job after his players at Texas Tech had accused him of mistreatment.

The accusations at that point were pretty vague. Officials at Tech were looking into “concerns within the leadership of our men’s basketball program” that may have involved “the number of hours they were being asked to practice.”

Gillispie was coming off of a season where his team went 8-23 and just 1-17 in Big 12 play. He had seen more than half of his roster leave in each of the last two offseasons. We knew things were bad there, but it wasn’t until Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com really got to digging that we learned just how bad it was.

Since Gillispie took over the program 18 months ago, 15 players have transferred out of the program. That includes Wannah Bail, who was the (now aptly named) crown jewel of Gillispie’s 2012 recruiting class. Those players make up less than half the number of people associated with the program that have left during Gillispie’s tenure, more than 30 people including secretaries, academic advisors, assistant coaches, and student managers. He’s blatantly lied to numerous people about job openings on his staff, even allowing some to quit their jobs before telling them that the position he had offered was no longer available. He left players in scholarship limbo, including two Canadians that were told that if they used the $1,000 airplane tickets that they bought to go home they wouldn’t be allowed back on the team.

He’s a (insert word that’s not acceptable on College Basketball Talk). We know this.

But what makes him a truly despicable person is this passage. From CBSSports.com:

“We used to go more than four hours all the time,” added Jaron Nash, who transferred to North Dakota after last season. “I remember that day when we went almost all day. We didn’t leave until 9 p.m. or so. It was pretty bad. A lot of guys were really hurt after it. One guy had a stress fracture in both legs.”

One source identified that player as African native Kader Tapsoba, who did not play last season while dealing with multiple stress fractures.

“He was literally crying at practice,” said the source, who was with the program last season. “He couldn’t even run and Gillispie had him running up and down the steps at the arena. I remember the doctor getting the X-rays back and coming to practice and telling Gillispie it was really bad. He’d just ice him up and tell him to go practice.”

“He shouldn’t have been practicing,” he added. “But he bullied everyone, including the trainer. He’d make the trainer make kids come back. Bodies were dropping like flies. One day I walked in and the whole team was in the training room. All the players and even the managers. He’d make them practice.”

The team’s star player, Jordan Tolbert, cut his hand on the rim one day last year in practice and suffered a four-inch gash across his fingers. The next day, according to one source, Gillispie had the trainer bandage his hand and then instructed Tolbert to dunk the ball every time he caught it.

There really are no words to say here.

Calling that kind of behavior unacceptable would be the understatement of the year. Gillispie is a complete (insert word that’s not acceptable on College Basketball Talk), but what makes matters even worse is that he won’t even stand to face the music. He’s hiding out in a hospital, claiming that he had a “stroke or a heart attack”.

I don’t see anyway that Gillispie can come back from this given his track record, which includes well-documented issues with drinking and driving, plenty of incidents that have come to light regarding his time at Kentucky and one not-so-flattering rumor regarding a night in a bar with ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards.

How can Texas Tech keep him as a head coach? How can any other school hire him?

It’s incredible, really. Five years ago, Gillispie was the nation’s premiere, can’t-miss coaching prospect. Now he’s the drunk that once made a player practice for so long that he got stress fractures in both legs.

I’d never send my kid to play for him.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.