Dan Hurley

Report: Dan Hurley, Rhode Island agree to contract extension

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The first name that came up in many circles when the Rutgers head coaching job opened up was that of Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley.

Son of St. Anthony head coach Bob Hurley Sr. and younger brother of Bobby Hurley (who’s now the head coach at Buffalo), the theory was that Hurley’s return to his home state would rejuvenate the Rutgers program.

But just one day after turning down an offer from Rutgers, Hurley has reportedly agreed to a contract extension at Rhode Island that runs through the 2019-20 season.

In his first season at URI, Hurley’s Rams finished with a record of 8-21 (3-13 Atlantic 10) and failed to qualify for the conference tournament. But despite those struggles the program is headed in the right direction.

Three transfers, including former Rutgers big man Gilvydas Biruta, will be eligible next season and the program also welcomes two talented freshmen in forward Hassan Martin (Staten Island, N.Y.) and guard E.C. Matthews (Romulus, Mich.).

The transfers and newcomers will be important, as the Rams lose two of their top three scorers from this season. However guard Xavier Munford, who averaged 17.3 points per game in 2012-13, will be back to lead the way.

Hurley spent two seasons successfully rebuilding the program at Wagner, and according to ESPN.com he noted how much energy is required during a rebuilding project during an appearance on the “Ian O’Connor Show.”

“For me, my family loves Rhode Island, loves the people there. We’ve adjusted really, really well to living outside of New Jersey for the first time in our lives,” Hurley said Sunday on ESPN Radio’s “The Ian O’Connor Show.” “Two of my three years as a college coach have been in rebuilding situations, and that’s a tough thing to go through. It takes a lot of energy and a lot of wear and tear on you.”

According to ESPN Hurley’s agreement includes raises for his assistants and more chartered flights for road trips, something that has become more important in recent years as conferences have become more spread out geographically.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

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Kelly Kline/Under Armor
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While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how CBSSports.com summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told CBSSports.com Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

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Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.