Is Antonio Barton the answer for any of the four schools chasing him?

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On Monday afternoon, former Memphis big man Tarik Black announced that he would transferring to Kansas where he’ll team up with Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid to give Bill Self the nation’s best non-Kentucky recruiting class and a shot at a national title.

Black, who will be eligible immediately, may never end up being the star that he was expected to be with the Tigers, but he will be a valuable addition in a spot that Kansas needed a body: a big, physical veteran in the front court.

Black isn’t the only Memphis castoff that has become a valuable commodity on the transfer market, as Antonio Barton has now taken centerstage as the nation’s most sought-after former Tiger. According to a tweet from his brother Will, who plays for the Portland Trailblazers, Antonio will be choosing between Maryland, Tennessee, Kansas State and Texas A&M on Sunday after attending church. Wherever he ends up, Barton will be eligible immediately.

All four programs would be a good fit for Barton. Maryland lost Pe’Shon Howard to a transfer and has been looking for a suitable point guard for a couple of seasons. Barton would join a back court rotation that includes Seth Allen and freshman Roddy Peters. Barton is also a Baltimore native. Tennessee lost Trae Golden earlier this month, and currently does not have a true point guard on their roster. The Vols are one of Memphis’ biggest rivals, but they also happen to have a roster that is talented enough to finish third in the SEC and put together an NCAA tournament run. Kansas State doesn’t have the kind of talent that Tennessee does, but with Angel Rodriguez transferring out, they have a void at the point as well. Texas A&M comes into the picture because their associate head coach, Glenn Cyprien, recruited the Bartons to Memphis.

It will be interesting to see where Barton ends up, and it will also be interesting to see just how effective he ends up being in a new program. His best season at Memphis came as a freshman, when he averaged 8.2 points and played more than 24 minutes per game while Joe Jackson struggled adjusting to the college game. But Barton saw his minutes consistently decline over the last two seasons with the emergence of Jackson as well as Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson.

The question is whether or not he can actually be a point guard. He’s never averaged more than 1.7 assists in any season as a collegian, but some of that can be accredited to the fact that Barton was never the best ball-handler on the Memphis roster. Was he simply accepting his role?

Regardless, Barton is a veteran guard that can play the point if need be and is also an excellent three-point shooter. He’ll be a valuable, one-season stopgap for whatever program wins his services. That’s why I think that Maryland may end up being the best fit for him. He can play either back court position, and the other two members of that rotation are a freshman and a sophomore. The Terps may have lost Alex Len, but they still should be able to make a run at the NCAA tournament next season.

But if he can get past the rivalry aspect, taking over the starting point guard role with the Vols may be too much of an opportunity for him to pass up.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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?