Tom Crean

The NCAA whiffed when suspending Peter Jurkin and Hanner Perea

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In case you haven’t heard about it yet — I mean, you should have, because there wasn’t anything else important going on in the news last night, was there? — Indiana has had two of their incoming freshmen suspended by the NCAA for the first nine games of the season.

Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea won’t be allowed to suit up for the Hoosiers until a Dec. 15th game against Butler, and Jurkin must repay $250 and Perea $1,588.69 to a charity of their choosing. It’s a pretty stiff punishment, and it all stems from $185 that was spent more than two decades ago.

Mark Adams was the AAU coach for both players and, at one point, had attempted to become Perea’s legal guardian. The nature of their relationship would have allowed Adams to legally, in the eyes of the NCAA, spend the almost-$15,000 on things like lap tops, cell phones, meals and housing that make up the illegal benefits the NCAA has busted Jurkin and Perea with. But between 1986 and 1992, Adams’ ex-wife donated $185 — never more than $30 at once — in order to get an alumni sticker to put on her car. He’s permanently and forever considered a ‘booster’ for the school.

Seriously.

I’m not kidding.

The ex-wife of an AAU coach cost two players nine games and almost $2,000 in charity payments all for $185 that was spent on stickers before they were even born.

And you wonder why no one in their right mind trusts a decision that the NCAA makes.

The common theory being tossed around is that this is the NCAA reaching out and smacking IU for their association with Adams. You see, Adams runs a foundation called A-HOPE — African Hoop Opportunities Providing an Education — that brings players from abroad to the United States to help them get an education and find a place to play college basketball. But, as was exposed in this ESPN investigation last April, there is plenty of smoke and all kinds of rumors floating around basketball circles about Adams’ relationship with IU and whether or not it is too close.

But that theory doesn’t exactly hold water.

If message board fodder is all that it took to get a player suspended, Shabazz Muhammad would never play college basketball. Kyle Anderson wouldn’t, either. Anthony Davis probably would have been one of a handful of Kentucky recruits that went the way of Enes Kanter. Baylor would never get an elite prospect eligible and the Canada-Findlay Prep-Texas pipeline would have been shut down a long time ago.

Could it simply be that the NCAA was actually able to find some kind of wrongdoing, even if that wrongdoing is one of the most ridiculous, letter-of-the-law interpretations that the NCAA has ever come up with?

“There’s no question they’re contributors in this program right away, but the bigger concern right now is for both Hanner and Peter individually,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told SiriusXM’s Jeff Goodman on Tuesday night. “They don’t really know why this is happening and it’s really hard for us to explain it to them because I don’t really know why this is happening.”

Well, it’s simple, Tom. The NCAA doesn’t like your affiliation with Adams or A-HOPE, and they wanted to send a message about it. Since they couldn’t find anything illegal about the recruitment of the players, they are dropping the hammer on a technicality. They are trying to make a statement.

And they did. The irony, however, is that the ‘statement’ the NCAA made has more to do with the inept, archaic rules we’ve all come to know and abhor than with the two Hoosier freshmen.

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

Malik Newman to return to school, considering transfer

Mississippi State guard Malik Newman (14) dribbles past a Northern Colorado player during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/15712769/mississippi-state-malik-newman-withdraw-draft-transfer
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Malik Newman will withdraw his name from consideration and return to school for his sophomore season.

Newman was a top 10 recruit in the Class of 2015, a high-scoring combo-guard that opted to stay home and play for Mississippi State instead of enroll at one of the blue bloods that was recruiting him. He averaged 11.3 points as a freshman, but it was a largely disappointing season as he spent the year off of the national radar playing inefficient basketball.

Put another way, the fourth-leading scorer on a 14-17 SEC team isn’t exactly a lock for the lottery.

But here’s the catch: he may not be returning to Mississippi State, as Newman is considering a transfer, according to a report from ESPN. That report quotes a source close to the situation saying “unhappy with his role and how he was utilized.”

It will be interesting to see what happens from here. Newman would have to sit out a year if he transferred to another Division I program, and for a kid that thought he was destined to be a one-and-done star, locking himself into a three-year college career would be an odd move.

Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) shoots past Xavier forward Sean O'Mara (54) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft, according to multiple reports.

Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall, which went 25-9 and reached the NCAA tournament. He likely projects as a second-round pick with a bit of a shaky shot, but a high usage and assist rates. His strong finish to the season likely lifted him on some draft boards, but his inefficiency will cap his ceiling in June’s draft.

The loss is significant for the Pirates as Whitehead was so much of their offense, but they’ll bring back Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo. It’s a group that will miss Whitehead’s playmaking, but is still a solid enough foundation that Seton Hall will still likely be competitive in the Big East and vying for another NCAA tournament berth.

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.