Bubble Banter: Who hurt their tournament chances?

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SATURDAY’S BUBBLE LOSERS

Ole Miss: The Rebels learned the hard way that the easiest way to play yourself off the bubble is to lose at South Carolina and, two weeks later, drop a game at Mississippi State. A pair of sub-200 losses in February isn’t going to impress the NCAA committee. They have one top 50 win and have lost six of their last ten. The Rebels may need to win the automatic bid.

Akron: There was no guarantee that winning out would have resulted in a tournament berth for the Zips, but their loss to Buffalo on Saturday night all-but ensured the fact that Akron will need to win the MAC’s automatic bid to go dancing.

Iowa State: The Cyclones couldn’t afford a loss at Oklahoma, not when they have struggled so much on the road this season and missed out on two marquee wins thanks to Elijah Johnson and Ben McLemore. Iowa State needs to win at Oklahoma State and cannot afford to lose to West Virginia. At that point, would three top 50 wins be enough to outweigh losses to Texas and Texas Tech?

Alabama: The Crimson Tide had a golden opportunity, up eight with 12 minutes left at Florida. But Anthony Grant’s club let that slip away, and they now find themselves in a tough spot with two games to play. They won’t have a top 50 win once Kentucky’s RPI is adjusted and they have four sub-100 losses.

Baylor: Baylor is all but done at this point, after losing a nail-biter at home to Kansas State on Saturday. With a home game against Kansas and the Big 12 tournament, there’s still a sliver of hope, but it’s fading fast.

Tennessee: After winning six straight games and beating Florida at home to thrust themselves into the middle of the bubble conversation, Tennessee went out and lost at Georgia, which puts them in a still-deeper NCAA tournament hole. The Vols have three top 50 wins and are 8-9 against the top 100, but they would be smart to avoid losing at Auburn and then beat Missouri at home.

Wichita State: The Shockers have eight top 100 wins and won at VCU and beat Southern Miss and Creighton at home. Combined with an RPI of 41, Gregg Marshall’s team should be OK. But with three sub-100 losses, Wichita State probably doesn’t want to risk losing in the first round of Arch Madness.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils entered this week with a chance to play their way into the tournament. They got swept at the LA schools, which will likely mean that even a win at Arizona next week won’t be enough.

Kentucky: Losing at Arkansas hurts, but all it does is erase Kentucky’s margin for error. Win three straight, and the Wildcats should be in.

Colorado: The Buffaloes lost at Cal on Saturday, but they have a strong enough computer profile — and wins over Arizona, Colorado State, Cal and Oregon — that they should be ok as long as they dont’ lose out.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes needed to beat Indiana to have any chance of earning an at-large bid. They’ll need to win the Big Ten tournament title.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

College commission’s plea to NBA: Bring back prep-to-pros

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NEW YORK (AP) — The commission proposing reforms to college basketball wants 18-year-olds to be eligible again for the NBA draft, and the NBA Players Association would make that deal today.

Change will take longer than that.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver senses the league’s age limit isn’t working. Requiring U.S. players to be 19 years old and one year removed from high school has sent many of them to a year of college they don’t want, and delayed the full-time basketball instruction pro teams prefer.

But whether the league would agree to allow players to come straight from high school again, or want them to wait two years before becoming draft eligible, has been a sticking point practically since the age limited was enacted in 2005 and remains unclear now. Before the age limit was in place, some stars flourished straight from high school including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

It once loomed as the biggest fight during the 2011 negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. The league had signaled its desire to raise the age limit to 20, and the union wasn’t going to agree to that. But the league shifted its goals toward extracting financial concessions from the players, and the age limit moved to the back burner and has stayed there.

Now could be the time to finally move it forward. Change has to be bargained by the NBA and NBPA, but they don’t need to wait for the next CBA to do it. And with nearly every team having its own G League affiliate, there is a legitimate minor league where 18-year-olds could play without having to do it on campus.

WHY IT COULD WORK: Because the timing may be right. With now 27 teams, two-way contracts allowing easier paths to the NBA and a fresh increase in salary, the G League has never been closer to being an option on par with college. As shown recently when high school All-American Darius Bazley chose the G League over his commitment to play at Syracuse, even top players may consider it.

WHY IT WOULDN’T WORK: Ending the age limit doesn’t necessarily end one-and-done. Players who know they aren’t going to make an NBA roster out of high school might prefer a tuition-paid year of being the big man on campus at Duke or Kentucky over a year in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Fort Wayne, Indiana, or some other G League city.

WHY IT’S KEY TO THE SCANDAL: The report cries out for help with one-and-done, noting that “only the NBA and the NBPA can change this rule.” The commission says it may have to recommend ending freshman eligibility or mandating that all scholarships be for three or four years if the age limit can’t be ended in 2018.

Silver may agree it’s time for change, but it will come on the NBA and NBPA’s timetable.

“We’re not by any means rushing through this,” he said during February’s All-Star break. “I think this is a case where, actually, outside of the cycle of collective bargaining, we can spend more time on it with the Players Association, talking to the individual players, talking to the executive board and really trying to understand the pros and cons of potentially moving the age limit.”

Commission calls for more transparency from shoe companies

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Apparel companies are heavily involved in elite-level youth basketball, with Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all running their own circuits. The shoe companies also have lucrative sponsorship deals with schools and coaches worth millions of dollars.

When a federal investigation revealed some of the shoe money was being funneled to recruits to influence their choice of schools, the NCAA’s hand was forced: It had to deal with the worst-kept secret in college basketball.

As part of its recommendations to clean up corruption, the Commission on College Basketball called on the boards of apparel companies Wednesday to have greater financial transparency and accountability in their investments in “non-scholastic basketball.”

“The apparel companies that actively sponsor non-scholastic basketball are public companies,” the report said. “It appears, however, that they do not have effective controls in place in their spending in non-scholastic basketball.”

A federal investigation in September revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks and bribes, leading to the arrests of 10 people. Among them were two former Adidas executives, including one who was accused of agreeing to funnel $40,000 through a coach to the father of former North Carolina State player Dennis Smith Jr.

The independent commission, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, released a 60-page report on Wednesday, asking for the apparel companies’ help in corralling the corruption.

The commission said it expects the companies will insist their employees provide detailed accountability about expenditures in non-scholastic basketball and cooperate with new NCAA rules out of concern how their money is being spent.

WHY IT COULD WORK: If the NCAA can get the shoe companies to agree, it would allow the organization to have a better handle on benefits future college players are receiving and possibly dissuade corruption.

WHY IT WOULDN’T WORK: The shoe companies may not want to cooperate, leaving the NCAA still in the dark.

WHY IT’S KEY TO THE SCANDAL: The benefits elite youth players receive from shoe companies has always been a blind spot for the NCAA. Getting a glimpse of the expenditures and where those come from could possibly help it prevent future pay-to-play scenarios.

Commission on College Basketball says ban cheats, end 1-and-done

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Commission on College Basketball sharply directed the NCAA to take control of the sport, calling for sweeping reforms to minimize one-and-done, permit players to return to school after going undrafted by the NBA and ban cheating coaches for life.

The independent commission, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, released a detailed 60-page report Wednesday, seven months after the group was formed by the NCAA in response to a federal corruption investigation that rocked college basketball. Ten people, including some assistant coaches, have been charged in a bribery and kickback scheme , and high-profile programs such as Arizona, Louisville and Kansas have been tied to possible NCAA violations.

“The members of this commission come from a wide variety of backgrounds but the one thing that they share in common is that they believe the college basketball enterprise is worth saving,” Rice told the AP. “We believe there’s a lot of work to do in that regard. That the state of the game is not very strong.

“We had to be bold in our recommendations.”

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report ahead of Rice presenting its findings to top NCAA officials. It’s not yet clear how the governing body would pay for some of the proposals, and some of the panel’s key recommendations would require cooperation from the NBA, its players union and USA Basketball.

The commission offered harsh assessments of toothless NCAA enforcement, as well as the shady summer basketball circuit that includes AAU leagues and brings together agents, apparel companies and coaches looking to profit on teenage prodigies. It called the environment surrounding college basketball “a toxic mix of perverse incentives to cheat,” and said responsibility for the current mess goes all the way up to university presidents.

The group recommended the NCAA have more involvement with players before they get to college and less involvement with enforcement. It also acknowledged the NCAA will need help to make some changes and defended its amateurism model, saying paying players a salary isn’t the answer.

“The goal should not be to turn college basketball into another professional league,” the commission wrote in its report.

Rice was scheduled to present the commission’s report to the NCAA’s Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors on Wednesday morning. The two groups of university presidents planned to meet after Rice’s presentation to consider adopting the commission’s recommendations. If adopted, the hard work of turning the recommendations into NCAA legislation begins.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has said he wants reforms in place by August. The commission does, too. And it wants to review the NCAA’s plans for implementation before it goes before the boards for approval.

The 12-member commission made up of college administrators and former coaches and players was tasked with finding ways to reform five areas: NBA draft rules, including the league’s age limit that has led to so-called one-and-done players; the relationship between players and agents; non-scholastic basketball, such as AAU, meant to raise the profile of recruits; involvement of apparel companies with players, coaches and schools; and NCAA enforcement.

NCAA officials mostly stayed out of the process. Emmert and Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson were part of the commission, but not included in executive sessions, when proposals were being formed. The commission spent 70 percent of its time in executive session, Rice said, and kept its work secret until Wednesday’s reveal.

The overarching message to those in college athletics: Take responsibility for problems you have created.

ONE-AND-DONE

The commission emphasized the need for elite players to have more options when choosing between college and professional basketball, and to separate the two tracks.

The commission called for the NBA and its players association to change rules requiring players to be at least 19 years old and a year removed from graduating high school to be draft eligible. The rule was implemented in 2006, despite the success of straight-from-high-school stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. The commission did, however, say if the NBA and NBPA refuse to change their rules in time for the next basketball season, it would reconvene and consider other options for the NCAA, such as making freshmen ineligible or locking a scholarship for three or four years if the recipient leaves a program after a single year.

“One-and-done has to go one way or another,” Rice told the AP, expressing hope the NBA would act.

The commission decided against attempting to mirror rules for baseball but said it could reconsider. Major League Baseball drafts players out of high school, but once an athlete goes to college he is not eligible to be drafted until after his third year. Baseball players can also return for their senior seasons after being drafted as long as they do not sign professional contracts.

The commission did take a piece of the baseball model and recommended basketball players be allowed to test the professional market in high school or after any college season, while still maintaining college eligibility. If undrafted, a college player would remain eligible as long as he requests an evaluation from the NBA and returns to the same school. Players could still leave college for professional careers after one year, but the rules would not compel them to do so.

ENFORCEMENT

The commission recommended harsher penalties for rule-breakers and that the NCAA outsource the investigation and adjudication of the most serious infractions cases. Level I violations would be punishable with up to a five-year postseason ban and the forfeiture of all postseason revenue for the time of the ban. That could be worth tens of millions to major conference schools. By comparison, recent Level I infractions cases involving Louisville and Syracuse basketball resulted in postseason bans of one year.

In those cases, then-Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who was later fired after being tied to the FBI investigation, received a five-game NCAA suspension for violations related to an assistant coach hiring strippers for recruits, and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for nine games for academic misconduct and extra benefits violations. The commission said suspensions should be longer, up to one full season.

Instead of show cause orders, which are meant to limit a coach’s ability to work in college sports after breaking NCAA rules, the report called for lifetime bans. The commission also said coaches and administrators should be contractually obligated comply with NCAA investigations.

AGENTS

The commission proposed the NCAA create a program for certifying agents, and make them accessible to players from high school through their college careers.

AAU AND SUMMER LEAGUES

The NCAA, with support from the NBA and USA Basketball, should run its own recruiting events for prospects during the summer, the commission said, and take a more serious approach to certifying events it does not control.

The NCAA should require greater transparency of the finances of what it called non-scholastic basketball events and ban its coaches from attending those that do not comply with more stringent vetting, the report said. Such a ban could wipe out AAU events that have flourished in showcasing future talent.

APPAREL COMPANIES

The commission also called for greater financial transparency from shoe and apparel companies such as Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. These companies have extensive financial relationships with colleges and coaches worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and Adidas had two former executives charged by federal prosecutors in New York in the corruption case.

The commission also called out university presidents, saying administrators can’t be allowed to turn a blind eye to infractions.

To that end, the commission said university presidents should be required to “certify annually that they have conducted due diligence and that their athletic programs comply with NCAA rules.”

The commission recommended the NCAA Board of Governors, currently comprised of 16 university presidents and chancellors, include five public members with full voting privileges who are not currently employed as university leaders.

Finally, the commission admonished those within college sports who use the NCAA as a scapegoat for the problems in basketball, saying universities and individuals are accountable for keeping the game clean.

“When those institutions and those responsible for leading them short-circuit rules, ethics and norms in order to achieve on-court success, they alone are responsible,” the commission wrote. “Too often, these individuals hide behind the NCAA when they are the ones most responsible for the degraded state of intercollegiate athletics, in general, and college basketball in particular.”

2018 NBA Draft Early Entry List: Who declared? Who is returning? Who are we waiting on?

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Here is a full list of the players that have signed with an agent, declared and are testing the waters and those that have decided to return to school.

Underclassmen have until April 22nd to declare for the NBA draft this season and until 11:59 p.m. on May 30th to remove their name from consideration.

The NBA Combine will be held May 16-20 this year. 

The full list of early entrants, from both the collegiate and international ranks, can be found here.

DECLARED, SIGNING WITH AGENT

TESTING THE WATERS

  • ESA AHMAD, West Virginia
  • MIKE AMIUS, Western Carolina
  • KOSTAS ANTETOKOUNMPO, Dayton
  • UDOKA AZUBUIKE, Kansas
  • SEDRICK BAREFIELD, Utah
  • TYUS BATTLE, Syracuse
  • LAMONTE BEARDEN, Western Kentucky
  • BRIAN BOWEN, Louisville
  • KY BOWMAN, Boston College
  • JORDAN BRANGERS, South Plains
  • BARRY BROWN, Kansas State
  • BRYCE BROWN, Auburn
  • TOOKIE BROWN, Georgia Southern
  • TROY BROWN, Oregon
  • C.J. BURKS, Marshall
  • JORDAN CAROLINE, Nevada
  • HAANIF CHEATEM, FGCU
  • KAMERON CHATMAN, Detroit
  • YOELI CHILDS, BYU
  • CHRIS CLEMONS, Campbell
  • TYLER COOK, Iowa
  • ISAAC COPELAND JR., Nebraska
  • BRYANT CRAWFORD, Wake Forest
  • MIKE DAUM, South Dakota State
  • JON DAVIS, Charlotte
  • JORDAN DAVIS, Northern Colorado
  • SHAWNTREZ DAVIS, Bethune Cookman
  • TERENCE DAVIS, Ole Miss
  • TYLER DAVIS, Texas A&M
  • NOAH DICKERSON, Washington
  • DONTE DIVINCENZO, Villanova
  • TORIN DORN, N.C. State
  • NOJEL EASTERN, Purdue
  • CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue
  • JON ELMORE, Marshall
  • JACOB EVANS, Cincinnati
  • BRUNO FERNANDO, Maryland
  • JARREY FOSTER, SMU
  • MELVIN FRAZIER, Tulane
  • WENYEN GABRIEL, Kentucky
  • KAISER GATES, Xavier
  • EUGENE GERMAN, Northern Illinois
  • ADMON GILDER, Texas A&M
  • MICHAEL GILMORE, FGCU
  • JESSIE GOVAN, Georgetown
  • TYLER HALL, Montana State
  • JAYLEN HANDS, UCLA
  • ZACH HANKINS, Xavier
  • ETHAN HAPP, Wisconsin
  • JARED HARPER, Auburn
  • MALIK HINES, UMass
  • ARIC HOLMAN, Mississippi State
  • JALEN HUDSON, Florida
  • DEWAN HUELL, Miami
  • KEVIN HUERTER, Maryland
  • TRAMAINE ISABELL, Drexel
  • DEANGELO ISBY, Utah State
  • JUSTIN JAMES, Wyoming
  • ZACH JOHNSON, Miami
  • CHRISTIAN KEELING, Charleston Southern
  • DEVONTE KLINES, Montana State
  • SAGABA KONATE, West Virginia
  • KALOB LEDOUX, McNeese State
  • MARQUEZ LETCHER-ELLIS, RICE
  • ABDUL LEWIS, NJIT
  • MAKINDE LONDON, Chattanooga
  • DOMINIC MAGEE, Southern Miss
  • FLETCHER MAGEE, Wofford
  • CALEB MARTIN, Nevada
  • CODY MARTIN, Nevada
  • ZANE MARTIN, Towson
  • CHARLES MATTHEWS, Michigan
  • LUKE MAYE, North Carolina
  • JALEN MCDANIELS, San Diego State
  • MARKIS MCDUFFIE, Wichita State
  • CHRISTIAN MEKOWULU, Tennessee State
  • AARON MENZIES, Seattle
  • ELIJAH MINNIE, Eastern Michigan
  • SHELTON MITCHELL, Clemson
  • TAKAL MOLSON, Canisius
  • JUWAN MORGAN, Indiana
  • MATT MORGAN, Cornell
  • TRAVIS MUNNINGS, Louisiana-Monroe
  • RENATHAN ONA EMBO, Tulane
  • JOSH OKOGIE, Georgia Tech
  • JAMES PALMER JR., Nebraska
  • LAMAR PETERS, Mississippi State
  • JALON PIPKINS, CSUN
  • SHAMORIE PONDS, St. John’s
  • JONTAY PORTER, Missouri
  • MARCQUISE REED, Clemson
  • TRAYVON REED, Texas Southern
  • ISAIAH REESE, Canisius
  • CODY RILEY, UCLA
  • KERWIN ROACH II, Texas
  • JEROME ROBINSON, Boston College
  • AHMAAD RORIE, Montana
  • QUINTON ROSE, Temple
  • ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD, Tennessee
  • MICAH SEABORN, Monmouth
  • RONSHAD SHABAZZ, Appalachian State
  • TAVARIUS SHINE, Oklahoma State
  • CHRIS SILVA, South Carolina
  • YANKUBA SIMA, Oklahoma State
  • FRED SIMS, Chicago State
  • OMARI SPELLMAN, Villanova
  • MAX STRUS, DePaul
  • DESHON TAYLOR, Fresno State
  • KHYRI THOMAS, Creighton
  • REID TRAVIS, Stanford
  • JARRED VANDERBILT, Kentucky
  • LAGERALD VICK, Kansas
  • CHRISTIAN VITAL, Connecticut
  • JAYLIN WALKER, Kent State
  • NICK WARD, Michigan State
  • TREMONT WATERS, LSU
  • PJ WASHINGTON, Kentucky
  • QUINNDARY WEATHERSPOON, Mississippi State
  • ANDRIEN WHITE, Charlotte
  • DEMAJEO WIGGINS, Bowling Green
  • LINDELL WIGGINTON, Iowa State
  • AUSTIN WILEY, Auburn
  • KRIS WILKES, UCLA
  • JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN, Hofstra

RETURNING TO SCHOOL

 

Former Texas center James Banks III transfers to Georgia Tech

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After playing sparingly in two seasons at Texas, 6-foot-10 center James Banks III made the decision to transfer. Tuesday night Banks announced his next stop, with the Decatur, Georgia native committing to Georgia Tech.

After sitting out the 2018-19 season per NCAA transfer rules, Banks will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

In 46 total games at Texas, Banks averaged 1.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 10.7 minutes per game. As a freshman Banks appeared in 32 games and averaged 12.4 minutes per appearance, contributing 1.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. With the additions of Mohamed Bamba and Jericho Sims, Banks’ playing time decreased in 2017-18, as he appeared in 14 games and averaged 1.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in 6.8 minutes per game.

Georgia Tech currently has four scholarship front court players for the 2018-19 season, with one being rising redshirt senior forward Abdoulaye Gueye. Rising redshirt junior Sylvester Ogbonda and rising sophomores Evan Cole and Moses Wright will have eligibility remaining when Banks becomes available to compete at the start of the 2019-20 season.