Report: 2014 guard D’Angelo Russell verbally commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State has landed a fourth commitment in the 2014 class, as 6-4 guard D’Angelo Russell has verbally committed to attend the school according to multiple reports.

Rated among the best players in the 2014 class, the southpaw from Louisville (he attends Monteverde Academy in Florida) has the skill needed to play anywhere on the perimeter. His versatility will serve the Buckeyes well upon his arrival in Columbus in 2014.

Russell joins forwards Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop and 6-10 center David Bell as 2014 prospects who have committed to Thad Matta’s program. Russell’s decision is a key one for Ohio State, which loses both Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. at the end of the 2013-14 season.

Players due to return in 2014 are point guard Shannon Scott and shooting guards Amadeo Della Valle and Kameron Williams. Scott played more than 20 minutes per game last season, posting averages of 4.9 points and 3.8 assists per contest.

Della Valle played in just 15 games last season, while incoming freshman Williams was a highly-regarded player during his time at Mount Saint Joseph in Baltimore.

Below are some highlights from Russell’s junior season.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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?