Jeremy Robinson, Tim Shelton

Great West preview: All of the talent, with none of the perks

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How does a conference that doesn’t get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament have so much talent? The Great West has that question to answer this season. North Dakota joined the Big Sky Conference this season trimming the Great West to six teams.

Cal State-Bakersfield has an All-Independents team selection in Stephon Carter and two other solid guards in Zach Lamb and Issiah Grayson. Chicago State had the Great West Newcomer of the Year last season in Jeremy Robinson (13.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg in 2011-12). Six junior college transfers also made their way to the Cougars’ roster this season, and they’ll need a lot to improve on last season’s 4-26 record.

NJIT brings back guard Chris Flores (13.1 ppg) and Jim Engles’ Highlanders are coming off back-to-back 15-win seasons. Texas-Pan American has one of the best guards in the six-team conference in Brandon Provost and his 13.4 points and 3.5 apg. The most impressive team in the conference will be Utah Valley State under coach Dick Hunsaker. The Wolverines had a 20-win season in 2011-12 and returns forward Ben Aird and coaches’ son Holton Hunsaker as major contributors. Houston Baptist is trying to bounce back from a 10-20 season, but three double-figure scorers return.

All-Conference Team

G: Stephon Carter, California State-Bakersfield

G: Chris Flores, NJIT

G: Brandon Provost, Texas-Pan American

F: Ben Aird, Utah Valley State

F: Jeremy Robinson, Chicago State

Player of the Year

Jeremy Robinson, Chicago State

Predicted Finish

1.) Utah Valley State

2.) California State-Bakersfield

3.) NJIT

4.) Texas-Pan American

5.) Houston Baptist

6.) Chicago State

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

Louisville campus police reviewing escort allegations

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Louisville campus police now say they are reviewing allegations that a former men’s basketball staffer hired escorts to dance and have sex with recruits and players in a dormitory.

Katina Powell has alleged in a book released online over the weekend that former Cardinals director of basketball operation Andre McGee paid her $10,000 for dancers to perform 22 shows from 2010-14 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory. The school reported those allegations to the NCAA and has launched an investigation.

“The University of Louisville Police Department, in consultation with the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, is reviewing allegations regarding the men’s basketball program,” University police chief Wayne Hall said Tuesday in a statement.

It was the first confirmation that police are looking into the allegations. When contacted last week, a campus police operator said they weren’t aware of the book allegations, and it was unclear at that time if an investigation had been launched.

Cardinals coach Rick Pitino has said that McGee denied Powell’s allegations.

McGee left in 2014 and is currently an assistant at Missouri-Kansas City, which has put him on paid leave.

Pitino said Saturday that he hasn’t read Powell’s book titled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” and doesn’t plan to. The 104-page book was published by an affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal and is scheduled for hardcover release Oct. 12.

The woman said that she and three of her daughters, along with other women, danced and stripped for Louisville recruits and players and performed sex acts with them, according to the book. Powell, 43, also said McGee offered recruits alcohol at those parties.

Upon hearing of the allegations, Pitino said he did some investigating on his own before being told by the school’s compliance department not to talk to players. But the coach said he talked to other assistants about the allegations and all of them denied knowing of the activities outlined in Powell’s book.

“I’m going through 15 people who worked here, and not one person even had a premonition of something wrong,” Pitino said. “Not one person living in the dorm had even the slightest premonition. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Louisville has hired Chuck Smrt of the Compliance Group, which assists schools in NCAA cases, to review the allegations.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 to become an assistant at Missouri-Kansas City under Kareem Richardson, who was a Cardinals assistant from 2012-13. He was placed on paid administrative on Friday and has been unavailable for comment. McGee’s Louisville attorney, Scott Cox, didn’t comment because the investigation is ongoing.

St. John’s hires Mitch Richmond as a special assistant

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St. John’s added its second Hall of Famer to the coaching staff on Tuesday, announcing Mitch Richmond had been hired as a special assistant to first-year head coach Chris Mullin.

Mullin and Richmond, along with Tim Hardaway, made up Run TMC, the short-lived, high-scoring offense the Golden State Warriors played from 1989-91.

Mullin was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 2011. Three years later, he was a presenter to Richmond’s enshrinement in Springfield.

“Mitch is committed to helping us build this program and develop an environment for sustained success at St. John’s,” Mullin said in a statement. “He has tremendous basketball insight, a vision for the game and a passion to share his knowledge. Obviously, his experience in different roles throughout his career as a player, scout and mentor will have an impact in many areas.”

Earlier this summer, Mullin bolstered his coaching staff with the additions of associate head coach Barry Rohrssen and Matt Abdelmassih. Greg St. Jean was hired later in the summer.

The Red Storm open the 2015-16 season on Nov. 13 against Wagner.