NCAA Basketball Tournament - Lehigh v Duke

Duke is getting their basketball team iPads

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By now, you’ve probably heard: Duke’s basketball team is getting iPads.

You can read all about it in this press release here.

The iPads will be uploaded with game-tapes, scouting reports, personnel breakdowns and offensive and defensive edits for matchups with future opponents, which is an incredible tool for the Duke coaching staff to provide. The players are, quite literally, a four-digit passcode and a couple of strokes of a touch-screen away from having a complete breakdown of their last game (their last practice?) as well as a full scouting report for their next opponent.

This is all information that can be given out in other ways. Scouting reports come in packets. Clips can be made an put onto a DVD or a thumb-drive. Plays can be drawn up on just about anything. The beauty of the iPad in this case is that it can all be put into one, easily manageable tablet that can be used anywhere. It makes the process of pulling a laptop ALL the way out of its carrying case and putting in ALL that effort to turn it on AND find an outlet to keep it charged seem like a chore.

The key: convincing the players to put in the effort to get better outside of the practice gym. As the saying goes, you can give a player an iPad, but you can’t make him do anything other than play Angry Birds with it.

It’s also a heckuva recruiting tool, as the players will be allowed to use the iPad for whatever they want. (It’s technically still the school’s property, although they will have the option to purchase it when they graduate.) If they want to but a subscription to Netflix to catch up on the fifth season of Gossip Girl, they can. If they want to use it to try and set a personal record in Temple Run, they can. If they want to use it to download their reading assignments for class or to purchase textbooks, they can do that, too.

I don’t own an iPad, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want one. I do. Badly. They are really freakin’ cool. But they are also really freakin’ expensive, which is where the beauty here lies: Duke gives these athletes a toy they want and soup it up to be used as a tool to get better, which is a $13,000 luxury that many other programs (Lehigh?) cannot afford.

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

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armor
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While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

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Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.