Could immediately-eligible transfers be disappearing soon?


College basketball’s free agency period could be coming to an end.

According to a report from Andy Katz of ESPN.com, the National Association of Basketball Coaches board of directors met last week, and among the rule changes that were discussed were transfers that are allowed to become eligible immediately without having to sit out a season.

There was just a single dissenting vote in the room.

The way the current system is structured, there are two ways that a transfer can gain immediate eligibility: A) If the player graduates from school in less than four years and still has a season of eligibility remaining, he is either eligible for the graduate transfer exception or can apply for the graduate transfer waiver, which will grant him immediate eligibility; or B) If the player is transferring within 100 miles of an ill relative he can receive a waiver to play immediately.

(There are a couple of other situations that could gain a transfer immediate eligibility — Trey Zeigler was allowed to play at Pittsburgh immediately after transferring out of the school where his father was fired, and there is some scuttlebutt that the players that have left Rutgers this spring will be able to play immediately — but that is on a case-by-case basis.)

We’ve seen an uptick in transfers in recent years, particularly those of big name players. Just in the last two days, Evan Gordon left Arizona State (his second school) to transfer closer to home; Deandre Kane left Marshall and transferred to Pitt; and Mike Moser announced that he would be transferring to Oregon, which will be the third team that he plays for. All three of those guys will be eligible to play immediately. That says nothing of Trae Golden, who left Tennessee and may be eligible immediately, or Trey Zeigler, who transferred out of Pitt and to TCU after being declared immediately eligible to play at Pitt last season after transferring out of Central Michigan.

I can understand why the coaches will be frustrated by all of these transfers, especially when many of them spring up after teams illegally tamper with players already at a school. The rules are well-intentioned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are being taken advantage of.

“The rule in most cases is not being used as intended and is clearly adding to the widespread free agency in college basketball,” Arizona State coach Herb Sendek told ESPN.com.

I don’t necessarily believe that it’s the right move to get rid of them, however. I honestly don’t think that there should be any restrictions on the players transferring out of one school and into another, unless these coaches also have no problem sitting out one season every time they transfer … err, change jobs. And you never know, maybe having some incentive to actually treat your players like human beings will help us avoid situations like this. And this.

But, hey, I’m not the one that makes the rules.

These coaches are.

And they don’t necessarily have their player’s best interest in mind.

Ask the NBA Draft deadline.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

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Kelly Kline/Under Armor
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While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how CBSSports.com summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told CBSSports.com Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

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Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.