Donnie Jones

Report: UCF head coach Donnie Jones to receive contract extension

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UCF head coach Donnie Jones has led the Knights to three straight 20-win seasons since arriving at the school in 2010, most recently posting a record of 20-11 (9-7 Conference USA) while saddled with a one-year postseason ban.

Jones’ reward: a contract extension through 2018 according to the Orlando Sentinel. Jones originally had two years remaining on his original contact.

Terms have yet to be released, but the move shows the administration’s willingness to allow Jones and his staff to lead the UCF program into the American Athletic Conference. In addition to the postseason ban that came as a result of NCAA violations Jones was hit with a three-year show cause penalty.

The Knights return the majority of their key contributors from last year’s 20-win team and hope to have an impact in their debut season, but they’ll have to account for the graduation of forward Keith Clanton.

The versatile Isaiah Sykes (he led the team in points, steals and assists), forward Tristan Spurlock and guard Calvin Newell Jr. are three of the players expected to lead UCF in 2013-14. UCF will also enjoy the luxury of having some depth at point guard, which was not the case in 2012-13.

Incoming freshman Brandon Goodwin joins sophomore Daiquan Walker at the position, while both Newell Jr. and Sykes have the ability to create for teammates as well.

While 2013-14 is certainly an important year for UCF basketball when it comes to how they adjust to the new conference, it’s also important in regards to building a program that can consistently contend in the American.

Cincinnati, UConn and Memphis are expected to be the standard-bearers for the American (Temple should also factor into the equation), but the departure of Louisville opens the door for another program to join that group.

Can Jones take UCF to that level? With a new contract in tow, he’ll be expected to do just that.

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?