Julius Randle

Kentucky commit thinks Julius Randle will pick UK, unsure about Andrew Wiggins

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Derek Willis, a 6-foot-9 Kentucky commit, took part in a Q-&-A with Courier-Journal‘s Steve Jones to share his thoughts on Kentucky, including the top-ranked class John Calipari has, a class that still can improve.

Kentucky is still in contention for the No. 1 overall player Andrew Wiggins (Huntington Prep/Thornhill, Ont., CAN), No. 2 overall player according to Rivals.com, Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian/Plano, Tex.), and consensus top-10 recruit Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty High/San Jose, Calif.).

Willis, the first commit to the Class of 2013, when asked about whether or not he thought Kentucky could land Randle, the Kentucky native seemed fairly confident Randle will join him in Lexington.

“As far as Julius Randle goes, and this is all based on what I’ve found, what I’ve read, I think he will come,” Willis told Jones.

“But I think Randle is probably a lock; that’s my opinion,” Willis said later.

Earlier this week, Randle reportedly cut Oklahoma and N.C. State from his list, leaving only Florida, Kansas, Texas, and Kentucky. Randle is set to decide on Mar. 20.

Wiggins has been quiet about his recruiting, but many believe it centers around UK and his parents’ alma mater, Florida State, though, Kansas and North Carolina are also in the mix. Wiggins shying away from discussing his recruiting has left many, including Willis, uncertain of where he’d end up.

“Wiggins is a toss-up for me, I can’t figure it out,” said the future Wildcat. “I’ve tried to figure him out. I’ve read everything and looked him up. I don’t know. I know UK is one of his top two choices, I would say.”

As for the 6-foot-7 Gordon, who is considering Kentucky along with Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, Willis believes he may remain out west when all said and done.

If Kentucky misses out on both Wiggins and Randle, they still have a loaded class which includes the Harrison twins — Andrew and Aaron, James Young, Marcus Lee, and Dakari Johnson to go along with Willis.

Photo courtesy Facebook/Prestonwood Christian Academy

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?