Jamie Dixon

Josh Newkirk commits to Pitt, foreshadows success recruiting in ACC?

Leave a comment

Jamie Dixon has landed the second member of his 2013 recruiting class, a Josh Newkirk officially committed to Pitt on Wednesday evening. Evan Daniels of Scout.com was the first I saw to report the news.

Newkirk is a nice addition for Dixon. A 6-foot-2, 175 pound point guard, Newkirk is a quick and explosive point guard, able to beat his man off of the dribble and finish above the rim. Some of his perimeter skills need work — he’d be well-served to tighten up his handle and improve the consistency on his jump shot — but that athleticism provides upside. A borderline top 100 recruit according to most services, Newkirk visited Pitt last weekend. He cancelled visits with Memphis and Georgia Tech, opting instead to commit to the Panthers on an in-home visit with Dixon on Tuesday night.

What’s more intriguing, however, is where Newkirk is from. A Raleigh, NC, native, Newkirk went to the same high school (Word of God) that produced John Wall, CJ Leslie and Quincy Miller. In general, the Raleigh area has produced quite a bit of talent in recent years, and it’s an area that Pitt hasn’t exactly tapped into before.

Jamie Dixon has cut his teeth bringing in gritty players from cities up and down the I-95 corridor in the Northeast — DC, Baltimore, Philly, New York — promising a chance to play in front of family and friends in the Big East. But with the Panther’s move to the ACC coming up next season, the question that many had raised about the future of the Pitt program involved where Dixon will find his players. Will he still be able to lure kids from Philly and New York to play games against Georgia Tech and Clemson instead of Villanova, St. John’s and Georgetown? Will he be able to tap into some of the fertile recruiting grounds of the ACC?

This commitment from Newkirk might provide you with an answer.

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

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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?