On the day that South Carolina announced the addition of seven newcomers (including midyear transfer Tyrone Johnson) the school also announced that four players had their requests to be released from their scholarships granted.
Guards Damien Leonard, Brian Richardson and Eric Smith, and forward RJ Slawson all asked for their releases and received them according to head coach Frank Martin.
“After our team’s end of the season meetings, Damien Leonard, Eric Smith, RJ Slawson and Brian Richardson have decided to ask for their release and will not be with the team moving forward,” Martin said in a statement released by the school.
“We want to thank them for being tremendous representatives for the University, the Athletics Department and the men’s basketball team. We fully support them and wish them the best moving forward.”
Of the four players Smith saw the most playing time in Martin’s first season at South Carolina, starting 27 of the Gamecocks’ 32 games and averaging nearly 28 minutes per contest. The 5-10 point guard averaged 5.7 points and 3.1 assists per game for South Carolina, which finished with a 14-18 overall record (4-14 SEC).
Offensively Richardson, a 6-4 guard from Wilson, N.C., was the most productive with an average of 7.5 points per game. Removing Smith, the other three transfers averaged between 14.8 (Leonard) and 18.2 (Richardson) minutes per game.
With the seven newcomers the allocation of minutes stood to be far different next season, with the Gamecocks adding talented players such as Johnson and freshmen Sindarius Thornwell and Demetrius Henry.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.