Winston Shepard

Winston Shepard is the difference-maker for San Diego State

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On Tuesday afternoon,’s Myron Medcalf provided us with a late-May conversation-starter when he posted a list of the Top 10 Impact Sophomores heading into next season.

The list isn’t bad. Texas point guard Javan Felix is in there, as is Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker, Harvard’s Siyani Chambers, Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell.

But I have to take Myron to task for a name that he left off of the list: San Diego State’s Winston Shepard.

The Aztecs are going to be without a lead dog next season. Jamaal Franklin, their most talented player, is headed to the NBA. Chase Tapley, their assassin and go-to guy in the final minutes, has graduated.

Dan Hanner sums it up nicely here:

JJ O’Brien and Xavier Thames are solid players. And I can write down a 7 or 8 player rotation for San Diego St. that sounds reasonably intimidating on paper.  But San Diego St. loses its two most important players in Chase Tapley and Jamaal Franklin. Both took a high volume of shots, played a ton of minutes, and were super efficient. (Departing senior DeShawn Stephens rarely shot, but he was very efficient too.) Losing players like that just isn’t a recipe for a better season. And San Diego St. had only the 36th best margin-of-victory last year.

Tulane transfer Josh Davis enters, as does talented freshman Dakarai Allen. But neither of those guys are going to be able to fill the void left in the box score by Tapley and Franklin.

Shepard, however, has the talent to be that guy. He was ranked 21st nationally in the Class of 2012 by Rivals. He’s a 6-foot-8 point forward with the kind of versatile skill set that gives coaches nightmares. He’s got potential for days.

He’s also got a long way to go to reach that potential. He’s not a great shooter, he’s turnover prone, and he’s the kind of player that doesn’t realize that a) he’s not a great shooter; and b) he’s turnover prone. In other words, his shot selection and decision-making could stand to improve, and that should inherently make him a more efficiency player.

My point is that Shepard needs to put in the work this summer if he wants to get better and be the top dog for the Aztecs. But if he does — if he ends up making that jump that so many sophomores do — he could end up being the reason that SDSU makes their way back into the NCAA tournament. If he doesn’t, Steve Fisher might be looking at the NIT next season.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.