Baylor center Isaiah Austin to return for sophomore season

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With one tweet from departing point guard Pierre Jackson, Baylor fans became very excited about their prospects for the 2013-14 season.

In news that has since been reported by multiple outlets, 7-1 center Isaiah Austin will in fact return to Waco for his sophomore season. Baylor sent out a press release late Sunday, following a meeting between Austin and head coach Scott Drew.

With rising redshirt senior Cory Jefferson making the same decision Thursday, Scott Drew’s team will be loaded inside next season.

“We’re extremely excited to have an opportunity to work with Isaiah for another year,” Drew said in the release. “I think it’s a compliment to Baylor Nation, the university and the team that Isaiah wants to return, and I know Baylor Nation is really excited to have him back for another year.”

In 35 games this past season Austin averaged 13.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game for the Bears, who won the Postseason NIT title. Austin has been projected as a likely first round selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, likely falling just outside of the lottery.

But with his decision to return to school the 2014 NBA Draft (should he declare then) becomes deeper in theory, and Baylor should be considered a Big 12 contender along with Oklahoma State (the early favorite in the eyes of many) and league standard-bearer Kansas.

This is where Jackson’s departure comes into play.

Jackson leaves a big hole for Baylor to fill at the point, with the hope being that rising sophomore L.J. Rose and junior college transfer Kenny Chery are capable of handing the responsibilities.

Gary Franklin Jr. is another option at the position, and with the amount of talent both returning and arriving in Waco at the other spots this is the big question for Coach Drew and his staff to address.

However that question is for another day. Today Baylor fans will celebrate Austin’s decision to return to school for another year, and rightfully so.

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

LaSalle parts ways with longtime head coach Dr. John Giannini

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La Salle announced on Friday that they are parting ways with head coach John Giannini.

Giannini had been the head coach of the program for 14 seasons, amassing a record of 212-226. Before taking over at La Salle, he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Rowan and eight seasons coaching at Maine.

“Today Bill Bradshaw and I mutually agreed that La Salle University could benefit from a new voice in leading the program,” said Dr. Giannini. “It is difficult to admit this but I have given every effort possible for success and I have received nothing but support and encouragement from Bill and President Hanycz. Greater things may be accomplished for this storied program and great university with the approach of a new coach. I am forever grateful, especially to my loyal staff and dedicated student-athletes. I look forward to my next challenge and La Salle’s future success.”

Kentucky clarifies ‘false reports’ they did not shake Kansas State hands after loss

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After Kansas State knocked off Kentucky in the Sweet 16, the purple Wildcats alleged that the blue Wildcats did not shake their hands after the game.

“They didn’t shake our hands,” Kansas State junior guard Amaad Wainright told ESPN last night. “It’s sorry.”

“They know what they did.”

Kentucky bristled at the allegations.

“They were turned and celebrating, so I walked off,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “There was no disrespect for anything. It’s just that they were celebrating, and I was happy for them.”

“My team’s not like that. There’s no disrespect in any way. They beat us. They deserved to win the game.”

NCAA amends rule to allow Isaac Haas to play

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BOSTON — The NCAA has changed their interpretation of the rule that kept Isaac Haas out of the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Haas broke his elbow in Purdue’s first round win over Cal St.-Fullerton, but he was not allowed to play in a second round game against Butler because his brace did not meet NCAA standards.

So they changed those standards.

“With ample time this week to review the intent of the playing rule, the committee decided to provide a more contemporary interpretation, while keeping health and safety for all players the highest priority,” said Gavitt. “Technology has improved materials used in braces, so now there will be more flexibility in applying the rule as long as the brace is fully covered and padded. Isaac and other players in similar circumstances should be able to play, as long as the brace is safe for all.”

Sources have told NBC Sports that, despite Haas’ lobbying to get onto the court, he is not expected to play on Friday night. If he does, it will be in a very limited capacity.

“He didn’t practice the last two days,” Painter said on Thursday, “and when you don’t practice, you don’t play.”

“I don’t see him playing until he can practice and show me he can shoot a right-handed free throw and get a rebound with two hands.”

USC’s Chimezie Metu declares for NBA draft

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USC junior forward Chimezie Metu announced on Thursday evening that he will be declaring for the NBA draft:

This decision is not surprising. Metu finished his degree — Law History and Culture —  in three seasons. He held himself out of USC’s NIT games in an effort to keep himself from getting injured with NBA workouts on the horizon.

Metu averaged 15.7 points, 7.4 boards and 1.6 blocks for the Trojans this season. He is considered a borderline first round pick.

VIDEO: Kansas State legend celebrates revenge on Kentucky 67 years in the making

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In 1951, Kansas State lost to Kentucky in the National Championship game.

Ernie Barrett, who eventually became the school’s athletic director and is known as “Mr. K-State“, played on that team.

He’s wanted to get revenge on Big Blue ever since.

On Thursday night, Kansas State did.

Ernie was there, and here was his reaction in the locker room: