Ronald Roberts, Jr., Rotnei Clarke

Butler guard Rotnei Clarke cleared for full contact in practice

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After being being examined by a spine specialist on Thursday, No. 9 Butler senior guard Rotnei Clarke received the news that he, the program and its fans were all hoping for. Clarke has been cleared for full contact in practice, which opens the door for his playing in Saturday’s tilt against Temple.

Clarke hasn’t played since suffering a neck injury in the first half of Butler’s win at Dayton on January 12. Clarke was fouled hard while attempting a layup, the force of which sent him crashing into the basket stanchion.

The Bulldogs have won two of the three games they’ve played in Clarke’s absence, most recently losing 54-53 at La Salle on Wednesday night. Ramon Galloway’s driving basket with 2.5 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Philadelphia.

“Rotnei saw a spine specialist again this morning and everything looks stable and he has no symptoms, so he was cleared for full contact,” said Butler Head Athletic Trainer Ryan Galloy in the statement released by the school.

“We will evaluate him again tomorrow (Friday) and then make a decision about Saturday.”

It’s important to note that Clarke has only been cleared for practice at this point, with a positive report on Friday needed to get Butler’s leading scorer on the floor for their home game against Temple.

In spite of the Owls’ win over Big 5 rival Penn on Wednesday night this is a big game for Temple, who has lost three of their last five games. In Khalif Wyatt the Owls have one of the Atlantic 10’s best players, and when he’s on Temple can beat just about any team in the country (see his 33-point afternoon in Temple’s win over then-No. 3 Syracuse last month).

If Clarke is able to play on Saturday evening Butler becomes an even tougher team to beat at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

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

Iowa State lands three-star SG Jakolby Long

Steve Prohm
Associated Press
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Iowa State received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Friday morning, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long made his pledge to Steve Prohm’s program. A native of Mustang, Oklahoma, Long attends Mustang HS and played for the Athletes First grassroots program this summer.

In Nike EYBL play for Athletes First, Long averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

According to Cyclone Fanatic, Long was also considering Georgia, Texas and Utah before deciding that he’ll play his college basketball at Iowa State. Long will join junior Matt Thomas, sophomore Hallice Cooke and transfer Nick Babb in the competition for minutes off the ball when he arrives on campus next year. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, Long could be a in a position where he sees solid playing time immediately.

Long joins junior college products Donovan Jackson and Emmanuel Malou, and 2016 forward Solomon Young in Iowa State’s 2016 class to date. And the Cyclones, who won’t use all 13 scholarships this season, still have room for a couple more additions for next season.

Iowa State has four seniors (Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay), and junior point guard Monte’ Morris is considered by some to be a candidate to enter the 2016 NBA Draft.

UofL foundation hires firm to review escort allegations

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An independent Louisville affiliate has hired a law firm to review an escort’s allegations that former men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee hired dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring Thursday of the Stites & Harbison law firm. The foundation does fundraising for the university.

Louisville President James Ramsey also said Thursday he “fully” supports athletic director Tom Jurich “as we work to identify the facts in this situation.” Ramsey reiterated the school has hired former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt to lead the athletic department’s investigation.

Men’s basketball spokesman Kenny Klein had no comment on a CBS Sports report that former Cardinals recruit JaQuan Lyle, now an Ohio State freshman, confirmed the “gist of allegations” detailed in Katina Powell’s book during a meeting Tuesday with the NCAA.

Lyle originally signed with Louisville before de-committing and eventually landing with the Buckeyes. OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg confirmed the NCAA meeting via email on Wednesday but said there were no issues with Ohio State. He did not mention Louisville.

Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” was released online last weekend by a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. A hardcover version of the 104-page book is scheduled for release on Monday.

The book states that McGee hired Powell and other dancers, including three of her daughters, for 22 shows allegedly performed from 2010 to 2014 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 for Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on paid leave Friday. A message left Thursday with his Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, was not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for IBJ’s publishing arm could not be reached either.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said McGee denied Powell’s allegations. In a radio interview Tuesday he denied knowledge of what took place and said last week that others he talked to didn’t know about the activities described in the book.

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

The Hall of Fame coach wasn’t mentioned in Ramsey’s statement in which the chancellor praised Jurich’s athletic program as “exemplary” at the school.

“It is important that the university – all of us – stay focused on our day-to-day work of providing our outstanding students with a world-class education,” Ramsey said. “The investigation of the allegations may take time and we must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward.”