NCAA Division I board decides to retain current initial-eligibility sliding scale

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With the decision in October 2011 to raise the initial-eligibility standards for college basketball players beginning with the 2016 class, there was concern that a higher percentage of players would be ruled ineligible as freshmen.

That legislation would have required a prospective student-athlete to have a minimum GPA of 2.3 and complete at least ten of their 16 core courses before the start of their senior year of high school.

But due to a concern about “unintended consequences” that would occur as a result of the increased standards, the NCAA announced on Thursday that its Division I board has decided to retain the current initial-eligibility scale for the foreseeable future.

“APRs are improving, and I believe they will continue to improve,” Committee on Academic Performance chair Walter Harrison, also president of the University of Hartford, said in the release. “I’m concerned about minority students who would be affected by the dramatic change to the sliding scale.

“The new 930 APR benchmark required for postseason competition is impacting coaches’ recruiting decisions.  These changes and the action the Board took today to strengthen the high school core GPA calculation will make the positive effects even more dramatic.”

The decision to retain the current sliding scale is a good one, especially when considering the increase in corresponding SAT score that would come with the proposed “new” sliding scale.

Currently, student-athletes with a 2.5 GPA need an 820 on the SAT in order to be eligible. Under the proposed 2016 changes, the same student with a 2.5 GPA would have needed to score a 1,000 on the SAT.

In regards to the calculation of a student-athlete’s GPA in core courses only the best “16 best grades meeting the required distribution of math, science, English and other courses” will be allowed to count.

That change, which is a departure from the current system that “allows as many core courses as a prospective student-athlete takes within the time limitation to count toward the final GPA” will become official on August 1, 2016.

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

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.