Final Four - Louisville v Kentucky

Pitino lands 4th 2013 recruit; why isn’t there more oversigning outrage?

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This has been a wild week on the recruiting front, and the latest news to come down on Wednesday night involved our old friend Rick Pitino.

Pitino seemingly came out of nowhere to land a commitment from a 6-foot-9 Nebraskan named Akoy Agau, who is a native of Sudan. As a prospect, Agau is pretty much exactly what you would expect out of a kid from Sudan: he’s long, he’s athletic, he’s got terrific upside as a rebounder and a shotblocker, and he needs to develop the offensive side of his game, although he has proven to have a decent touch from the perimeter.

He’s got enough potential on the court that he is a consensus top 100 recruit and enough vowels in his name that, when combined with current Cardinal bigs Mangok Mathiang and Gorgui Dieng, announcers will have nightmares the night before they have to call a Louisville game.

As hard as this may be to believe, the impossibility of properly pronouncing the names of everyone on the Louisville roster is not the most interesting part of this commitment. You see, as of right now, Louisville has 15 player scheduled to receive a scholarship in 2013-2014. Two seniors are scheduled to graduate — Stephen Van Treese and Peyton Siva — and four players are currently committed to the school — prep point guard Terry Rozier, JuCo point guard Chris Jones, and big men Anton Gill and Agau.

That’s a problem, because college basketball teams are only allowed to have 13 players on scholarship.

This, quite frankly, is the definition of oversigning. And it’s not the first time that Pitino has done this. In 2010-2011 he asked Chris Smith, Kyle Kuric and Elisha Justice to give up their scholarships and become walk-ons to get to the necessary number of scholarship players. Since then, Pitino has “asked” a number of players — Jared Swopshire, Van Treese (he was eventually allowed to return when Raheem Buckles left), George Goode — to transfer to make room for better, healthier recruits.

Personally, I don’t have a huge issue with this. The players weren’t good enough, so they got cut. It sucks, but it happens.

But this is an enormous issue on the football side of things. So why isn’t there more outrage for basketball coaches like Pitino — or Tom Crean or Buzz Williams or any other coach who does something similar — who practice oversigning? John Infante took a look earlier this week in a terrific post. He offers up a number of explanations, but here are the two that I think are the most relevant:

So much more attention to roster management in basketball is paid to the roster management initiated by the players themselves. The high number of transfers helps mask issues with over-signing in two ways. First, it helps provide justification for oversigning in the first place. Coaches never know who will want to leave. Second, it clears up the scholarship crunch.

[…]

There are fewer horror stories. 
In basketball, the result of an over-signed basketball team typically ends with a basketball player transferring and moving on to continue his career at another Division I school. Football has all sorts of worse outcomes, including allegations of athletes being pressured into signing permanent medical non-counter scholarships, freshmen dropped from the team on the eve of fall camp, athletes transferring to junior college and needing to restart the recruiting process all over again, etc.

The bottom-line is this: there are a few programs who are developing a reputation for over-recruiting. If you don’t want to run the risk of getting “cut” or being forced to transfer, avoid those schools. Otherwise — i.e. if you decide that you just have to go to a school like Louisville — than you’ll have to deal with any negative outcome.

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

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.