University of Nebraska

Report: Richard Pitino adds former Gopher Ben Johnson to coaching staff


Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino has reportedly made an important addition to his coaching staff, hiring Ben Johnson as an assistant coach according to Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press.

Johnson, who was an assistant coach on Tim Miles’ staff at Nebraska this past season, is an important addition for Pitino due to his connections to both the school and the state of Minnesota. Johnson spent four seasons at Northern Iowa before making the move to Lincoln.

Johnson is a native of the state (won two state titles at De La Salle HS) and played two seasons at Minnesota (2002-04) after beginning his collegiate career at Northwestern.

Johnson joins Kimani Young, who was an assistant on Pitino’s staff at FIU, on the staff with director of basketball operations Mike Balado also making the move north from FIU.

With Johnson’s connections within the state the question now becomes how much will this help with three of the best players in the 2014 class residing in Minnesota.

Point guard Tyus Jones, shooting guard Rashad Vaughn and small forward Reid Travis are all Top 50 talents with Jones and Vaughn being hailed as Top 5-caliber prospects. Pitino has already reached out to the players, an important early step to take after accepting the job.

If Johnson can help the new staff become even tighter with the top players in the state, the task of making the Golden Gophers a contender in the Big Ten becomes more manageable.

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

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.