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It appears that Memphis coach Josh Pastner will not fill either of the job vacancies at USC or UCLA, as the 35-year-old coach has reportedly agreed in principle a contract extension with the Tigers.
Pastner led Memphis to a 31-5 season and undefeated mark in the C-USA. The Tigers beat Saint Mary’s in the Round of 64 of the NCAA tournament, but lost to Michigan State, 70-48, in the next round.
“I love Memphis,” Pastner told CBSSports.com. “I love my president, Dr. Shirley Raines. I love my athletic director, Tom Bowen. I love Tiger Nation. And I love my team. My focus has always been on Memphis.”
USC has now lost out on two candidates that were once considered targets to fill the spot that was vacated by Kevin O’Neill midway through the season and that has since been filled on an interim basis by assistant Bob Cantu. Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon was considered a candidate but recently signed a contract extension that will keep him at Pittsburgh through the 2022-23 season.
Pastner staying put means Memphis will reap the benefits of the high-level recruiting class that he has put together for the Tigers first season in the soon-to-be-renamed Big East in 2013-14. The class consists of five players, four of whom are among the Top 100 in the nation. The most high-profile among them is 6-8 power forward Austin Nichols, a Tennessee native who is in the nation’s Top 25.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.
“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”
The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.
What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.
The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.
Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.
Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.
Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.