Alabama A&M v Vanderbilt

2013 SWAC Tournament preview

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Due to extenuating circumstances, the SWAC Tournament has one of the most unique formats of any postseason conference tournament this year.

The regular season conference champion, Texas Southern, is ineligible for postseason play due to low APR scores. Add in the fact that the third place team, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, is in the same situation, and second-place Southern has the opportunity to get to their third NCAA Tournament by winning just two games. They are the lone team in the tournament with a bye to the semifinals.

There may not be a team with an easier path to the NCAA Tournament than the Jaguars, at least on paper. Win two games, with all that’s standing in their way being seven teams with .500-or-worse records in conference only one of those teams with more that 10 overall wins.

Yes, you have to play the games. But when you have to play the games against teams you’re clearly better than, things look a bit easier.

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

THE BRACKET

Where: Garland, Texas (Curtis Culwell Center)

When: March 13-16

Final: March 16, 4:30 p.m. EST (ESPN2)

Favorite: Southern

It’s an easy pick when the other two contenders are ineligible. Coach Roman Banks should be commended for the work he’s done with this team, though. Before this year’s 21-9 overall record and 15-3 conference mark, the Jaguars themselves were ineligible for the postseason and floundering in the SWAC cellar two years ago.

And if they lose?: They’ll have no one to blame but themselves. Southern is the SWAC’s only 20-win team and only team with a winning record that’s eligible for the conference tournament. The Jaguars are first in the conference in scoring defense (57.4 points per game), scoring margin (+10.8) and are second in scoring offense behind Texas Southern (68.3). They’re also first or second in 11 other statistical categories in the SWAC. If they have one weakness, it’s offensive rebounding, where they’re last (8.9 per game) in the conference. But that’s probably because they’re second in the SWAC in overall field goal percentage and first in three-point field goal percentage.

Sleepers: I’ll go ahead and say it, no one is beating Southern. The two teams that could’ve done it are ineligible to do so. But if anyone can knock them off, it’ll be Alabama State, who has a coach in Lewis Jackson who has won two SWAC tournaments, the last in 2010.

Studs:

Davon Usher, Mississippi Valley State – He leads the conference in scoring at 18.8 points per game.

Demarquelle Tabb, Alabama A&M – He’s seventh in the conference in scoring (13.9 per game) and leads it in rebounding (9.5 per game).

Malcolm Miller, Southern – Leads all conference tournament-eligible players in scoring (16 per game) and is ninth in the league with 5.8 rebounds per game.

CBT Prediction: Southern. No way around it. As previously stated, the two best candidates to beat them are ineligible and they also make up two of the Jaguars’ three losses this season. Banks should really get more pub for the job he’s done this season.

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.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.