James Southerland

Report: James Southerland eligibility issue centers around term paper

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For the second straight season No. 6 Syracuse has seen a key contributor be ruled ineligible for competition, with senior forward James Southerland currently sitting out.

Last year starting center Fab Melo was declared ineligible just before the NCAA tournament, and his absence was a big reason why the Orange failed to reach the Final Four.

But the question currently is why Southerland missed Syracuse’s 72-61 win over Villanova, and when will the team’s best perimeter shooter be allowed to return to the floor.

According to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard the current eligibility issue may center around the writing of a term paper. Specifically, whether or not a tutor wrote part of Southerland’s term paper.

This isn’t the first time this season that an issue involving Southerland has occurred, as a question regarding the receiving of improper benefits nearly benched him for the Orange’s win at Providence. Southerland made a payment to reimburse for the receipt of the benefits according to the paper, which allowed him to play in the game.

He would be declared ineligible on January 11, one day before the win over Villanova.

After regaining his eligibility and playing against Providence, Southerland was ruled ineligible again two days later. According to two sources, the second suspension centers on a term paper.

One source said the NCAA questioned whether a tutor wrote a portion of Southerland’s term paper.

There was also a change to the Syracuse staff, as director of basketball operations Stan Kissel resigned last month and was replaced by one-time Syracuse graduate assistant Tim O’Toole.

Kissel had worked at Syracuse University since 2005. Kissel served as the program’s liaison to the Academic Services Department, according to the 2011-12 team media guide.

It’s not clear if Kissel’s resignation has anything to do with Southerland’s situation or the NCAA investigation.

The questions regarding the staff changes can be left for another day, but the big question for the the Orange remains where will they get consistent perimeter shooting from if there’s no resolution in regards to Southerland’s eligibility.

Of the Syracuse players who have attempted at least 50 three-pointers (four) the senior from Brooklyn has been the most accurate, as he’s hit 38.4% from distance. The best shooter of the other three players? Brandon Triche, who’s shooting just 31.4% from three.

And with Southerland averaging 13.6 points per game off the bench Jim Boeheim needs his other reserves to up their production, but with the youth of those players it’s more reasonable to expect more offensively from the likes of Triche and C.J. Fair.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Duke, Cincinnati lead Hall of Fame Tip-Off

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Duke and Cincinnati, 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, highlight the eight-team field for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.

The participants for the Nov. 19-20 event were announced Wednesday.

Also in the field are Rhode Island, Penn State, Grand Canyon, Albany, Marist and Brown.

The teams, split into two four-team brackets, will play two doubleheaders at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Duke, Cincinnati, Penn State and Rhode Island will meet in the Naismith Bracket, while the others will play in the Springfield Bracket.

The teams will play two early round games at campus sites from Nov. 11 through Nov. 16.

Brandone Francis-Ramirez transferring out of Florida

Florida State center Jean Marc Christ Koumadje (21) fouls Florida guard Brandone Francis-Ramirez (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
(Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
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Brandone Francis-Ramirez is transferring out of the Florida program, the school announced on Wednesday.

A former top 40 recruit, Francis-Ramirez had his two seasons in Gainesville ruined by an academic issues and a loss of confidence. He was academically ineligible in 2014-15, practicing with the team during the second semester. He was granted a redshirt for the year, but he struggled to find any kind of a rhythm this past season. There was a two-month stretch in the middle of the year where he shot 6-for-58 from the floor and 2-for-31 from three.

On the season, he shot 20.2 percent from the floor and 16.9 percent from three.

“I want it to work out for him,” Gators coach Mike White said in a release. “We really appreciate what Brandone did here and wish him the best.”

One of Villanova’s title game stars undergoes knee surgery

Phil Booth, Jack McVeigh
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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The forgotten star of the national title game underwent an arthroscopic on his left knee on Wednesday.

Phil Booth, who scored a season-high 20 points in the 2016 National Title game, will be a junior next season and one of the guys called upon to help replace Ryan Arcidiacono, who graduated. He should be ready to go by the middle of the summer; according to a statement put out by the program, Booth will need 6-to-8 weeks to heal.

“Phil is as mentally tough a young man as we have had at Villanova,” head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “He continually impresses our coaching staff with his outstanding attitude. Phil will attack this recovery challenge with great determination, as he does everything in life.”

Booth averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists this past season.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.