University of Florida Gators Scottie Wilbekin hauls in a rebound against Norfolk State University Spartans Brandon Wheeless during their NCAA basketball tournament game in Omaha

Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin won’t be playing on Friday night

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With Erving Walker having graduated the keys to the Florida offense were to be handed to junior Scottie Wilbekin, who may not be as explosive as Walker but he also isn’t considered to be as unpredictable.

But head coach Billy Donovan has decided that Wilbekin has some things to learn still, as he’s made the decision to bench his point guard for their season opener against Georgetown tomorrow night.

Chris Harry of GatorZone.com reported the news this morning, and the move means that senior Kenny Boynton will run the show for Florida on the USS Bataan.

Wilbekin averaged just 2.6 points per game last season, but with the scoring options that the Gators have scoring points won’t be his most important job.

Setting up the likes of Boynton, Mike Rosario, Erik Murphy and Patric Young while also spearheading things defensively are the duties that Wilbekin will have to perform if Florida is to contend in the SEC.

Wilbekin averaged 1.6 assists per game, but it’s his assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8 last season and 2.2 as a freshman) and the fact that he’s more of a distributor than a scorer that makes Wilbekin a solid option to run the show.

“Scottie is a pass-first point guard, not a scoring guard, but that’s not to say he can’t score. He can,” senior guard Mike Rosario said. “Erv came down the floor looking to score. Scott will take good shots when they’re there, but he knows this team needs a guy who can run the offense and distributes shots. And we need his defense.”

But with this decision by Donovan it’s apparent that there’s some work to be done, and not solely from a basketball standpoint.

Florida could be down two players for tomorrow’s match-up due to the concussion suffered by forward Casey Prather in Monday’s practice, and on Tuesday it sounded as if the Gators weren’t expecting him to be ready to play.

“He is totally healed from the first one,” coach Billy Donovan said of Prather. “Obviously now, he’s gotta go through a series of baseline tests and those things. They don’t think it’s as bad as it was before, but I would say that he, right now, is probably not going to play on Friday.”

With Wilbekin out and Prather doubtful the Gators will need a fifth starter. Freshmen Michael Frazier II, Dillon Graham, Braxton Ogbueze and DeVon Walker all factor into the equation, with all seeing between 15 and 19 minutes of action in their 101-71 exhibition win over Nebraska-Kearney last Thursday.

Frazier was the most productive offensively, scoring 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, and both Ogbueze (15 points) and Graham (12 points, three assists) were solid as well.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

Iowa State guard Naz Mitrou-Long gets hardship waiver to play additional year

Iowa State guard Nazareth Mitrou-Long defends Buffalo guard Jarryn Skeete during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 84-63. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
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Iowa State got a boost to its roster for next season as senior guard Naz Mitrou-Long has been granted a hardship waiver by the Big 12 conference.

“Everything happens for a reason and although it hurt to not be able to play for a group of guys I loved last year, my body needed time to recover and that time off allowed me to feel the best I’ve felt since my freshman year,” Mitrou-Long said in the release. “I’m glad I’ll be able to play for the best fans in the country and represent the name on the front of my jersey, Iowa State, one more year. Words can’t describe this feeling. Cyclone Nation, be ready for a special year.”

The 6-foot-4 Long played in eight games last season for Iowa State as he averaged 12 points per game. He missed the rest of the season to deal with pain in his surgically repaired hips. Mitrou-Long has been a very effective three-point shooter during his career at Iowa State and he should be a nice option to have for next season if he’s healthy.

CIAA will stay in North Carolina despite state’s LGBT law

Protesters rally against House Bill 2 in Raleigh, N.C.,  Monday, April 25, 2016. While demonstrations circled North Carolina's statehouse on Monday, for and against a Republican-backed law curtailing protections for LGBT people and limiting public bathroom access for transgender people, House Democrats filed a repeal bill that stands little chance of passing. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association says it won’t move its headquarters, its basketball tournament or other conference championships from North Carolina, despite the state’s controversial new LGBT law.

The CIAA said in a statement Thursday that it will instead partner with the NCAA to educate its members on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues as it does on other issues, like graduation rates and concussion management.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the CIAA, the oldest African-American sports conference in the U.S., has hosted its annual basketball tournament in Charlotte since 2006 and announced it was moving its headquarters to Charlotte from Virginia in 2015.

The CIAA said Thursday that it will continue to “monitor the issues,” as it has since House Bill 2 passed.

 

VIDEOS: Stephen Curry’s personally invites athletes to his select camp

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, left, holds the championship trophy and Andre Iguodala holds the series MVP trophy as they celebrate winning the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 105-97 to win the best-of-seven game series 4-2. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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As he did last year, the NBA’s MVP is sending out personal invites to Under Armour’s SC30 Select Camp for some of the best high school and college point guards in the country.

It’s a pretty cool thing for the kids. Can you imagine how you would feel as a high school junior getting a personalized invitation to a camp from Stephen Curry himself?

 

VIDEO: John Calipari vows to lose some weight

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John Calipari has a goal this offseason: to lose some weight.

“Mid-50s, I let it go a little bit,” Calipari said as he worked out on an elliptical. “Had a heck of a year. But going forward, gotta get in better shape. Gotta get the body right. Started a week ago. What I will say to you is really simple. I’m not showing you my body for a month.”

The reason why Cal needs to get into shape?

He’s going to have to coach this year, because Tyler Ulis is heading to the NBA.

“I shoulda got some of his salary,” Ulis joked.

Cal won’t have to coach too hard. He’s got one of the best recruiting classes in the country coming into the program, including three top ten players and five of the nation’s top 30 prospects.

Four-star PG Jaylen Fisher de-commits from UNLV

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Coaching changes can wreak havoc on a program’s recruiting class, and that’s been the case for UNLV thanks to the tumultuous nature of their search for a new head coach. Thursday evening one prospect who remained committed to the Mountain West program throughout the process that ultimately led to Marvin Menzies landing the job announced that he’s decided to reopen his recruitment.

Four-star point guard Jaylen Fisher, ranked 55th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, announced via social media that he’s decided to de-commit from UNLV.

“I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to be a Rebel this year,” Fisher wrote. “But there have been a lot of changes with the program since I committed to UNLV; changes that have made me reconsider whether UNLV is still a good fit for me. So with that in mind and after much consideration with my family, I have decided it’s best that I reopen my recruitment.”

Fisher’s decision leaves wing Justin Jackson as the lone member of UNLV’s 2016 class at this point, with Jackson telling Scout.com in early April that he was undecided as to whether or not he’d reopen his recruitment. The school’s search for a coach began in January when they parted ways with Dave Rice, promoting Todd Simon in an interim role.

After deciding not to retain Simon, who’s now the head coach at Southern Utah, UNLV hired former Little Rock head coach Chris Beard…who left for Texas Tech less than two weeks later. UNLV landed Menzies, who they passed over for Beard, and he’s got a lot of work to do to field a roster that will be competitive in the Mountain West next season.

As for Fisher, the Arlington, Tennessee native should be a popular prospect with his decision to reopen things. And with Memphis losing former commit Charlie Moore, the Tigers are in need of help at the point. The question now is whether or not new head coach Tubby Smith will look to reach out to Fisher.

h/t Memphis Commercial-Appeal