Joe Jackson, Chane Behanan, Russ Smith

Joe Jackson returning to Memphis, Antonio Barton transferring

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Memphis got some good news this afternoon, as starting point guard Joe Jackson announced that he would be returning to school for his senior season instead of entering his name into the NBA Draft.

Jackson was the Conference USA Player of the Year in 2013-2014 after averaging 13.6 points and 4.8 assists while shooting 44.7% from three. He led the Tigers to dual-CUSA titles while Memphis won their first NCAA tournament game in his career.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Memphis next season. Jackson was touted as the savior of the program, the next home-grown star to take the reins of the program. It hasn’t exactly played out that way, as the former top 15 recruit has had an up-and-down career, nearly transferring out of the program at one point.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Jackson will have one last chance to prove himself in 2013-2014, but it will be interesting to see just how good the Tigers end up being. Jackson returns, as does Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford. They’ll be joined in the back court by freshmen Rashawn Powell and Markel Crawford. That said, the bottleneck in the back court means that Antonio Barton will be transferring out of the program. He’s going to graduate and should be able to transfer without having to sit out.

The front court will suffer some attrition, as Adonis Thomas has gone pro, DJ Stephens graduated and Tarik Black has transferred, but Shaq Goodwin is still around. He’ll be joined up front by freshmen Austin Nichols, Kuran Iverson and Nick King.

So there is plenty of talent in this Memphis program.

But there has been plenty of talent in the Memphis program for years. That hasn’t been the issue.

Memphis hasn’t beaten a single top 25 team in Pastner’s tenure. They just won their first tournament game this season.

That’s not the legacy that Jackson wants in his hometown.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?