NCAA President Mark Emmert’s press conference opens him up to more criticism

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ATLANTA — Mark Emmert stepped in front of the media at the Final Four on Thursday afternoon, a proverbial State of the NCAA address and a chance to respond to a healthy dose of criticism that he has received over the way that his organization has handled recent investigations.

And instead of inspiring a sense of hope that change is in the works, Emmert put an even bigger target on his back.

After a rambling, 17-minute opening monologue — the transcript went on for 2,576 words when printed out — Emmert spent the remainder of his 45 minute appearance dodging questions and firing back at his biggest critics. When Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com asked Emmert a question about being a lightening rod for criticism of the NCAA, Emmert added in the middle of his response, “By the way, thanks for the career advice. Kept my job anyway.” Dodd has called for Emmert to be fired. As he walked off the podium after the presser, Emmert said to Dodd “I’m still here. I know you’re disappointed, but here I am.”

When Joe Nocera of the New York Times asked a question about student-athletes and the less-than-challenging majors that are popping up across the country, Emmert criticized facts and statistics that Nocera had used in previous stories on the topic and tossed in “I know you disagree with me, but please let me finish.” He laughed off questions about the lack of knowledge his enforcement staff had regarding the report about Auburn football from Roopstigo. He audibly sighed, giving off a serious “What the hell kind of question is that?” vibe, every time he was challenged with a question.

To be fair, some of the questions that Emmert was asked were unfair and impossible for him to answer.

But that’s not the story here.

Emmert had an agenda. He had a hit-list. It’s clear that he reads the criticism of the job that he has done and of his organization, and that it’s become to bother him. He was fed up with it, and he wasn’t going to let something as simple as national television coverage and a room full of his harshest critics and the most powerful voices in college sports media stop him.

The push for NCAA reform has never been stronger, both in the way that rules are enforced and what those rules actually are. The NCAA looks really bad in the wake of investigations of Cam Newton, Shabazz Muhammad, Miami and Penn State. Emmert needed to make a strong statement on Thursday. He needed to inspire confidence that change is coming.

Instead, he gave every media member their easiest column of the year.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.