Josh Freelove, Lewis Jackson

Alabama State’s postseason ban rescinded by NCAA

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Earlier this spring it was announced by the NCAA that Alabama State was one of six men’s basketball programs to be banned from postseason play in 2013-14 due to low Academic Progress Rate (APR) numbers.

On Friday, Alabama State announced that after the NCAA’s evaluation of additional data submitted by the athletic department the Hornets are no longer subject to that ban. Alabama State also received the good news regarding its football, baseball and volleyball programs.

“Once the NCAA evaluated that additional academic performance data, assessed our ASU Academic Improvement Plan and reviewed us according to its Limited Resource Institution component, the NCAA staff determined that ASU will not be penalized,” Alabama State interim athletic director Melvin Hines said in the statement released by the school.

One of the points of contention with the new APR guidelines in recent years has been the fact that schools without the resources needed to make sure their student-athletes remain on track academically are the ones most often penalized. Taking into consideration that lack of resources is the right thing to do when the NCAA looks at cases such as Alabama State’s.

Lewis Jackson’s Hornets finished the 2012-13 season with a 10-22 record, finishing SWAC play with an 8-10 league record. Next year’s team has just one senior on the roster (guard Denzel McDaniel), and the Hornets will also have to account for the departures of leading scorers Josh Freelove (13.3 ppg) and Phillip Crawford (13.2, 6.1 rpg).

But even with the heavy personnel changes (Alabama State adds five newcomers, with four being junior college transfers) at the very least the Hornets know that they’ll be able to compete for the SWAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

SMU won’t appeal tournament ban, Brown suspension

Associated Press
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Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.

Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.

“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.

“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”

Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.

This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.

Kevin Marfo commits to George Washington

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Kevin Marfo committed to George Washington on Friday evening, announcing his decision on Twitter.

“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” he tweeted.

This caps a successful week for Mike Lonergan on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, GW landed a commitment from Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 point guard. He is the son of former GW guard Shawnta Rogers, the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. GW ends the week by adding a tenacious rebounder to a front court that graduates top rebounder Kevin Larsen after this season. Rogers and Marfo join power forward Collin Smith in the Class of 2016. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina will also be eligible in 2016-17.

He cut his list to 10 in August with Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Boston College, UMass, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul, Rhode Island and Providence all making the cut along wit the Colonials. He later trimmed the list to five finalists: BC, Providence, DePaul, GW and Rhode Island.

The Worcester Academy (Mass.) forward played for BABC this summer in the Nike EYBL, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.  The 6-foot-8 Marfo is listed as the No. 148 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.