Eddie Jordan, Robert Barchi

Degree issue regarding Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan addressed

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Given the events that resulted in the Rutgers basketball program undergoing a major overhaul, of course there would be complications in regards to the hiring of Eddie Jordan as the new head coach.

The complication, according to a report from John Koblin of Deadspin: Jordan never graduated from Rutgers.

About that due diligence: Despite all the accolades he’s received from the university and despite the school’s many claims to the contrary, Jordan hasn’t actually finished his degree, according to the Rutgers registrar’s office. The office sent me a verification document, found below, that indicates that Jordan attended classes at Rutgers from 1973 to 1977. He went on to take more classes in 1978, 1981, and 1985. There was no degree listed in the document. I called up the registrar’s office on Thursday and asked for clarification.

“He did not receive a degree from us,” an official there told [Koblin].

This revelation comes after much was made about the return of a “native son” to Rutgers, a school that hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 1991. And even before the scandal that led to the firing of Mike Rice, Rutgers had a long way to go in its quest to be competitive upon entering the Big Ten in 2014.

In a report from ESPN New York, Jordan stated that in 1985 he completed the work needed to finish his studies but did not receive a diploma due to a registration issue. Did Jordan claim on his résumé to have graduated from Rutgers? Regardless of the answer to that question, how difficult is it for the school to check the claims on his résumé?

Many wondered if the lack of a bachelor’s degree could lead to Jordan losing his job, and the school answered that question in a statement issued Friday evening. Rutgers does not require a head coach to have a bachelor’s degree; the NCAA allows each individual school to set the requirements for its coaching positions.

While Rutgers was in error when it reported that Eddie Jordan had earned a degree from Rutgers University, neither Rutgers nor the NCAA requires a head coach to hold a baccalaureate degree.  Eddie Jordan was a four-year letterman and was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980.  Rutgerssought Eddie for the head coach position as a target-of-opportunity hire based on his remarkable public career.

Jordan isn’t the first major college coach to be in such a position (before finding out having the degree wasn’t a requirement for the job), as both Sidney Lowe (then at NC State) and Clyde Drexler (Houston) had to finish up their undergraduate studies before accepting head coaching positions.

So as far as the school is concerned there’s no issue with Jordan not having his degree. But this entire situation could have been avoided if handled in a straightforward manner from the start. Just like the original viewing of the infamous practice tapes.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.