Kevin Ware  Tymell Murphy

Florida International’s postseason ban could provide three impact transfers

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On Tuesday afternoon, Florida International was one of the six schools that found themselves banned from postseason competition for the 2013-2014 season due to low APR scores.

The Panthers have Isiah Thomas to thank for that one.

And while I say that sarcastically about new head coach Anthony Evans’ program, there could end up being a couple of coaches that truly are thankful that Isiah Thomas took three years out of his life to wreck FIU’s APR scores, one of which is former FIU head coach and current Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino.

You see, the NCAA has a rule that says if the remainder of a player’s eligibility is to be played under a postseason ban, that player will be able to transfer to another program without having to sit out the mandatory one year. It’s the reason that Alex Oriakhi, a UConn transfer, was allowed to play at Missouri for his final collegiate season; UConn had an APR score that was too low. It was also why Keith Clanton became one of the nation’s most sought-after transfers last summer before he eventually decided to finish his career at Central Florida.

Minnesota has already earned a commitment from one former FIU player. Malik Smith committed to the Gophers back in May, and since he has one year of eligibility remaining, he should be immediately eligible for the Gophers.

And he may not be the only one, either. Raheem Buckles, a 6-foot-7 forward that had a promising-but-injury plagued three-year stint at Louisville, sat out the 2012-2013 season and was expected to be a senior on this year’s FIU team. There have been rumors that Buckles could follow Pitino from FIU to Minnesota since Pitino got the job.

There are a couple of other players who could be on the move as well.

– FIU’s leading scorer last season was New York City native Tymell Murphy, a 6-foot-5 wing that averaged 14.6 points and 6.8 boards in his one year with the Panthers. He’s a JuCo transfer and has one year of eligibility remaining. Murphy already obtained a release from FIU to pursue a transfer, taking a long look at Hofstra and Iona before announcing that he would be returning to FIU for his senior year.

– Buckles wasn’t the only impact transfer buried on FIU’s bench last season. Raymond Taylor averaged 14.2 points and 5.9 assists at Florida Atlantic as a freshman in 2009-2010, but he saw his production drop over the course of his last two years at FAU. Taylor say out the 2012-2013 season and will be a fifth-year senior heading into next year. He’s 5-foot-6, but he’s a dynamic playmaker when he’s under control.

Rakeem Buckles, Tymell Murphy and Raymond Taylor.

Keep an eye out for those three names over the summer.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.