Sidiki Johnson

Ricky Ledo to the NBA Draft? Sidiki Johnson off the team? Providence hits rough patch

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Ed Cooley is building a solid foundation for future success at Providence. He had one of the top recruiting classes in the country last year. His program is moves to a more stable, basketball-only conference soon. But he is running into two major bumps in the road that could set the progress back significantly, depending on how things play out.

As was reported by Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, redshirt freshman Ricky Ledo is weighing the possibility of not returning to Providence next season. Ledo, a Top 25 recruit from the Class of 2012, was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA and forced out of games this season. Instead of returning in 2013-14, Ledo could enter the NBA Draft.

“My status is unclear,” Ledo said, as reported by the Journal. “College is a great preparation for life and college has already taught me a lot. I’m looking at every option, both staying in school and looking at the draft.”

Draft Express projects Ledo would not be selected in this year’s NBA Draft, but could go in the late first round of the 2014 draft.

We have seen two key players return to school after being ruled partial qualifiers, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson and Kansas’ Ben McLemore, both of whom are now on track to win Rookie of the Year in their respective conferences.

As the Ledo news came down, Jeff Goodman of reported that Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson is “off the team” to deal with personal issues. Johnson came to Providence mid-way through last season after being asked to leave the Wildcats.

Johnson, a 6-10 native of New York, had been averaging 3.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Friars. He did not play in Providence’s overtime loss to Connecticut on Thursday.

Providence returns to the floor against Villanova on Sunday at noon ET.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.