2013 UA Pitt Jam Fest

Devin Robinson highlights Saturday’s action at the Pitt Hoop Group Jam Fest

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PITTSBURGH — Devin Robinson made a name for himself last summer. When you’re a lanky and athletic 6-foot-7 forward with a solid three-point stroke, that’s not a difficult thing to do.

Robinson, who plays his AAU ball with Squires Richmond (VA), has amassed quite a list of offers: UConn, Rutgers, Towson, VCU, Virginia Tech and Xavier were among the schools that he mentioned.

“VCU’s coming after me the hardest,” Robinson said of Shaka Smart’s program. “They play a lot of good D, they get up and down the floor, they shoot a lot of threes. They play hard.”

VCU may have some competition after the way that Robinson played in the Pitt Hoop Group Jam Fest on Saturday. Squires knocked off Philly Pride before losing to a loaded Atlanta Xpress, and Robinson played great. He was knocked down threes, he was blocking shots around the rim, he was beating top 50 center Trayvon Reed for offensive rebounds, and he showed that he could use the dribble to create shots.

Robinson, who is ranked No. 106 in the 2014 class according to Rivals, has heard from Cincinnati, Miami and Georgetown recently.

Chris Chiozza is picking up offers: Anyone that watched college basketball this season will find it easy to make a comparison for Memphis native Chris Chiozza: Missouri point guard Phil Pressey.

Chiozza, who is ranked 90th in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals, stands 5-foot-9 on a good day, but the Team Thad (TN) point guard is a dynamic playmaker. He’s quick with an ankle-breaking handle, he can get into the lane and create for himself or for his teammates, and he’s started to hit threes when defenders play off of him.

It’s enough that Chiozza — who already holds offers from Murray State, Richmond, UMass and Auburn, among others — is getting plenty of interest from bigger programs. Missouri has begun to show interest, although that may change now that they have two Class of 2013 point guards committed (Shane Rector and Wes Clark), as well as the Florida Gators.

Keep an eye on Temarcus Blanton: No one at the Pitt Hoop Group Jam Fest has had as good of a week as Temarcus Blanton, a 6-foot-4 off-guard from Georgia that plays for Atlanta Xpress.

Blanton, who currently is not ranked by Rivals, is often overlooked on the AAU circuit by more highly-regarded teammates, but he put on a show against Team Thad (TN) on Friday night and against Squires Richmond (VA) on Saturday night. The Class of 2014 product was a terror in transition, getting to the rim at will and often finishing while drawing a foul.

“I wanna play fast,” Blanton said. “Just keep running. It’s my style. When it comes time, I want to have the ball in my hands. I’m confident.”

Blanton said that he currently holds offers from George Mason, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Mercer and Murray State, and that schools like Cincinnati, Alabama and Tennessee have started to show interest.

What’s interesting about Blanton is that he’s not only looking for his “best chance of playing” when it comes to a college, but he wants a school with a good Sports Management program. He said that he wants to get into coaching once his playing career comes to an end, but that his dream is to be a commentator.

“I like being on TV,” he said. “I like to talk.”

Quadri Moore gaining more attention: Quadri Moore, a 6-foot-9 center from Linden, NJ, continues to generate attention from high-major programs along the eastern season board.

The No. 80 recruit in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals, Moore is a versatile center that can step out and knock down a three. Duke, Florida, Georgetown and Cincinnati have been in touch with him recently while he currently holds offers from Wake Forest, Providence, Seton Hall, Rutgers and St. Joe’s.

(Image credit: Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

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?