Tom Pecora

Fordham lands 2013 point guard Jon Severe

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Despite its location in a city known for its basketball talent, Fordham has found the sledding tough in the Atlantic 10 since joining the league in 1995. Head coach Tom Pecora, who just completed his second season at the school, hopes to change the culture of the program and end the days of the Rams being a perennial doormat in the A-10.

Pecora’s efforts received a much-needed boost on Wednesday, as Brooklyn native Jon Severe announced his decision to attend Fordham in the fall.

Severe, who averaged 21.6 points per game at Christ the King HS last season and was one of the top remaining recruits in the 2013 class, picked Fordham over Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

“Next year I will be attending Fordham University,” Severe said while putting on a maroon Fordham hat. “I think I can change the whole program around.”

According to multiple reports Rutgers attempted to make a late charge, with new head coach Eddie Jordan meeting with Severe on Tuesday, but their efforts ultimately went for naught.

And there’s a lot of work to be done, as the Rams finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 7-24 (3-13 Atlantic 10) and missed the Atlantic 10 tournament for the fifth straight year. The Rams lose leading scorer Chris Gaston but return rising senior guard Branden Frazier, who averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 assists per game last season.

The Rams struggled on both ends of the floor, ranking at or near the bottom of the Atlantic 10 in many of the major statistical categories both offensively and defensively. In order to change that Coach Pecora and his staff need to raise the level of talent in the program, and the addition of a player the caliber of Severe will definitely help.

“We’re thrilled to have Jon Severe become a part of our basketball family,” said Pecora in a statement released by the school. “He will have a huge effect on the rise of our program over the next four years.

“His ability to score the ball and make other players around him better make him an exceptional athlete. The entire Fordham community is proud to have Jon join us.”

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

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?