Mike Rice seen at the Nike Skills Academy on Tuesday

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Former Rutgers head coach Mike Rice was fired in early April after a practice tape surfaced, showing physical and verbal abuse towards his players.

It has been nearly three months, and on Tuesday Rice shared the floor as an instructor with some of the top college and high school players in the country during the week-long Nike Skills Academy in Union, N.J. Rice confirmed his participation through a text message to Yahoo! Sports.

[UPDATED 6:50 p.m.] Matt Sugam of SNY.tv is denying the initial report that Rice was coaching on Tuesday

“Just watching,” Rice told SNY.tv by text. “I did no work outs.”

Yahoo! Sports has since updated it’s original story with a text from Rice saying he was “a viewing guest of John Lucas.”

Rice has been seen coaching before, two weeks after his firing, coaching his daughter’s AAU team.

Adrian Wojnarowski reported Rice helped out in drills and practice situations, according to coaches who watched practice on Tuesday. Wojnarowski went on to report that Rice has been in anger management at the John Lucas Wellness and Aftercare Program.

Rice was fired after three seasons with the Scarlet Knights, finishing with a 44-51 record. Following Rice’s exit, athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned. It didn’t get much better for Rutgers when the hiring of new head coach Eddie Jordan and new AD Julie Hermann also drew additional controversy.

Yahoo! Sports reported that Rice had previously been working with players in pre-draft workouts while at Lucas’ gym in Houston before helping out at the Nike Skills Academy this week.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

Kedren Johnson
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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.