Big 12 Media Day Basketball

“Free agency” in college basketball?

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On the heels of Antonio Barton’s transferring from Memphis to Tennessee earlier today, there are many coaches around the country that are shaking their heads. It isn’t that they find Barton, or any other player’s decision to use their final year of eligibility elsewhere, at fault, but it is the rule allowing players to transfer this late in their college career that is the crux of the problem.

Even though many of college basketball’s premier programs are the ones who benefit from this rule, Bill Self told the Lawrence Journal-World that he disagrees in principle:

“You applaud anyone that can get their degree early. I am not knocking that at all. You look at it from the big picture. If you are a mid-major and you sit (red-shirt) a guy because it’s best for his life and he graduates after four years, you have to re-recruit him just to get him to come back to your school if he’s any good at all. I think it’s a bad rule…When you get to the point you are potentially recruiting kids off other kids’ campuses, I think it’s a big-time negative situation.”

In early May, Jon Rothstein captured the situation perfectly:

Herb Sendek, Arizona State’s head coach who saw his star player Evan Gordon transfer to Indiana earlier this month where he will be eligible to play immediately, echoed Rothstein’s sentiment: “The rule in most cases is not being used as intended and is clearly adding to the widespread free agency in college basketball,” Sendek told ESPN.

Said Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan:

“I positively believe a fifth-year guy should not be able to play right away. All they’re doing is looking at curriculum, finding a program that a school doesn’t have. Are they really trying to get a master’s degree? Or is it, ‘Maybe my team isn’t as good and we lost a lot and I want to be in the NCAA Tournament next year and …’ There’s a market out there for this. You take guys through summer school and give them every academic advantage and then they graduate and then they can just go to another school.

In some cases programs greatly benefit with this rule, like we just saw earlier today with Antonio Barton transferring to Tennessee, but that doesn’t make the rule right. In other cases, it significantly hurts mid-major programs who see top players transfer to bigger programs after discovering their talents are on par with that level of basketball.

Look no further than Trey Zeigler, who spent the first two years of his college career at Central Michigan, then played his junior season at Pittsburgh after his father was fired as head coach at CMU allowing him to play immediately for Jamie Dixon, and now he’ll spend his final year at TCU. Although he will most likely be sitting out for the 2013-14 season, his playing for three different schools over the course of his career speaks to Self’s point of “recruiting kids off other kids’ campuses.”

Every transfer situation is a unique one, but when reviewing Jeff Goodman’s 2013 transfer list that features more than 400 players transferring, it suggests there needs to be a strong review of this specific transfer rule, as well as transferring from one school to another in general.

Recruiting no longer ends in high school and on the AAU circuit, it has now extended to poaching college players from other Division 1 schools.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.