NCAA Basketball Tournament - Xavier v Baylor

Xavier receives more bad news with forward Jalen Reynolds being ruled ineligible

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Xavier’s four-member recruiting class received a great deal of praise during the off-season and rightfully so. But with that class now being cut in half, the Musketeers will likely enter the 2012-13 season with just eight scholarship players (Chris Cantino?).

Just two days after it was reported that freshman guard Myles Davis was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, news came out on Friday that 6-9 forward Jalen Reynolds was also ruled ineligible.

According to Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer, both plan to remain in school despite the fact that they won’t be able to practice with the team or receive a scholarship.

This is just the latest development for a program that underwent a great deal of change this off-season.

Guards Tu Holloway (graduation), Mark Lyons (transferred to Arizona) and Dezmine Wells (expelled) are gone, as are front court contributors Kenny Frease and Andre Walker.

Also assistant coaches Rasheen Davis (Manhattan) and Kareem Richardson (Louisville) moved on to new positions.

The leading returning scorer for the Musketeers this season is forward Travis Taylor, who averaged just 4.5 points per game in 2011-12.

Add to this the fact that Butler and VCU join the Atlantic 10 with teams expected to make a run at an NCAA tournament berth and this has the look of a rough campaign for the Musketeers.

Freshmen Semaj Christion and James Farr will have every opportunity to earn significant playing time this season, and if Xavier is to have any chance of returning to the NCAA tournament (Xavier hasn’t missed the tournament since 2005) they’ll need to.

What will Chris Mack and his staff do to account for the heavy personnel losses? That’s going to be one of the most important questions in the Atlantic 10 this season.

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

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.