Iowa Media Day Basketball

Hawkeyes: Don’t sleep on senior Eric May

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The Iowa Hawkeyes have a legitimate chance to get back to the NCAA tournament this season, even coming out of the supertough Big Ten. A great deal of outsider focus has fallen on the younger players brought in by third-year head coach Fran McCaffery. But current members of the team are careful to give all due praise to lone senior Eric May, who has remained with the team since the frozen-in-amber Todd Lickliter days.

Nobody really thinks May will be the leading scorer on this Hawkeyes team, but he plans to make a real impact on defense, which has long been the Achilles heel of the up-tempo attack brought in by former Siena mastermind McCaffery.

“I want to be the guy locked in on their best player,” May said. “I’m excited about it.”

Instead of trying to outscore teams, the Hawkeyes need to defend if they want to move north in the Big Ten standings.

“We can’t accept getting beat, or giving up on plays,” May said. “It all transfers over to games, and Big Ten games. It has to be consistent every single day.”

May’s level-headed approach may be crucial at times. Iowa’s talented freshmen are full of the vim and vigor of unbounded youth, which we all know vacillates between genius and idiocy on any given night. Witness the cocky responses two freshmen point guards gave when the HawkCentral blog asked them what they’ll do the first time they have a breakaway to the basket:

“I’m definitely dunking it no matter what,” Mike Gesell said. “The adrenaline will be pumping in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and I think my vertical will be twice as high at that moment.”

Fellow freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons was just as certain.

“It’s got to be a dunk,” Clemmons said. “It has to be a dunk.”

No doubt, the confidence is rather thrilling on a team that used to give Wisconsin a run for their money as the lowest-scoring team in the league. Whether it will convert into a legit shot to get back to the Big Dance is just one of the 1,000 questions we can’t wait to answer in the upcoming season.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

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.