Scott Phillips/NBC Sports

Malek Harris sees recruiting stock soar

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FORT WAYNE, In. — Malek Harris was merely a blip on the high-major radar before the month of April, but thanks to the April live evaluation period, he’s now one of the hottest names in the midwest for high-major programs.

The new attention from the college coaches and the media has even become a bit of a new running joke for Harris and his Illinois Wolves teammates. Mid-interview, Harris’ coach with the Illinois Wolves, Mike Mullins, yelled across the floor to Harris, “C’mon, “Hollywood,” we’re all going to bed with or without you,” which elicited a big grin from Harris as his teammates roared with laughter.

After the week Harris had on the recruiting front, there is much to smile about.

Just this week St. Louis, Creighton, Oregon State, Marquette, Kansas State and Auburn all offered Harris a scholarship to go along with previous scholarship offers from Illinois State, Miami of Ohio, DePaul and Iowa.

For Malek, all of the new attention is exciting but he’s trying to keep things in perspective.

“It’s exciting but I think one thing that our coach stresses is to handle it the right way,” Harris said of the recruiting process. “I can be happy but I can’t be satisfied and I know I have so much work to do so right now I’m worried about working and getting better and helping the team win.”

Harris, a 6-7 forward from Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Illinois, has received a lot of high-major attention despite being ranked No. 120 in the Rivals class of 2014 national rankings. Harris’ ranking is sure to go up thanks to his motor, his rebounding ability and toughness. Harris is also developing some skills to play on the wing.

“I don’t know if I really have a strength besides my motor,” Harris said. “Everyone tells me I play really hard but I don’t really notice it because coach always tells us that if we don’t play hard you shouldn’t play, so I always try to play hard and make plays for my teammates and myself. My strength is making plays and doing whats best for the team.”

While Harris isn’t sure which position suits him best at the collegiate level, he still wants to make sure he’s rebounding and playing tough.

“I could see myself as a ‘2’ or a ‘3’ but I’m going to be all over the floor and hitting the glass either way,” Harris said. “Basketball is a grinder’s sport; you’re going to get little injuries and you have to play through them. If coach is going to let me then I’m going to play.”

Scott also writes for NY2LA Sports and can be followed on Twitter @sphillipshoops

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?