Luke Babbitt, Lance Thomas

Why Lance Thomas will speak to the NCAA

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been inundated with reports concerning former Duke guard Lance Thomas and his recently-settled suit with Rafaello and Company over his $67,800 worth of unpaid debt towards a jewelry purchase.

Dave Wiseman of the Durham Sun-Herald spoke to Thomas on Monday, with Thomas revealing very little, other than he doesn’t believe any NCAA violations were committed in the incident. However, the most pertinent part of the story is that Thomas told Wiseman he would speak to the NCAA “eventually.”

The always informative John Infante chimed in, saying that Thomas must be very confident if he is willing to speak to the NCAA.

Now, Gary Parrish of had NCAA President Mark Emmert on his show Monday, with Emmert dropping the mini-bomb that they don’t need Thomas or the jewelry stores’ cooperation to charge Duke, should it come to that.

So, if Thomas talks, we can all agree he feels that he’s got a good shot at keeping himself or Duke from harm. But the main reason is that the case, having been settled, also included a confidentiality agreement both parties agreed to.

That agreement is why I believe Thomas will, eventually, talk to the NCAA.

As Infante points out, the statute of limitations may run out on this situation as soon as December 2013. So Thomas could wait, being that all this transpired four years ago at that point, and then talk, keeping all guilty parties from any sanctions.

But one has to believe that Thomas probably was all for this confidentiality agreement because, well, who wouldn’t be all for something that keeps private the details of something that on the shell, has been totally public?

If something is in the agreement that can’t be discussed? Boom. “Sorry, NCAA, I’m not at liberty to discuss that, per my agreement with the other party in this suit.” That’s all Thomas has to say. He’s not being “uncooperative” he’s just abiding by the letter of the law.

It’s a smart move on Thomas’ part. Keep in mind, “speaking” to the NCAA doesn’t mean “cooperating”, it just means a sit-down with an official about the case.

So sure, Lance Thomas, he’ll probably speak to the NCAA. That just doesn’t necessarily mean what is talked about will help solve anything the NCAA wants to get to the bottom of.

David Harten in the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.