Jim Larranaga

Miami gets a commitment from 2017 recruit D.J. Russell

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Jim Larranaga and Miami Hurricanes added their first commitment to their Class of … uh … 2017.

D.J. Russell, a 6-foot-6 rising freshman small forward, who will be enrolling in Arlington Country Day (Fla.) decided to end his college recruitment before he even began high school, as it was reported that he had committed to Miami on Tuesday. Eric Bossi, the National Basketball Recruiting Analyst, first reported the very early commitment on Tuesday evening. Jerry Meyer of 247Sports.com also got word of the commitment from Emory Walton, Russell’s coach with the Atlanta Celtics 15u team.

“Their style fits me and I like how they let their wings and guards do what they do,” Russell told Bossi on Tuesday evening. “I’m not worried about it being early. It’s all about hard work on my end now.

“I like to use my size and I score the ball very well,” Russell added when describing his game. “I have the 3-point shot down pretty well. I can defend, rebound and handle it a bit.”

Bossi went on to state that it is rare to commit this early, it’s not unheard of. He also listed off several notable players — Ryan Boatright and Taylor King — who committed early, only to end up at different programs. So don’t be surprised if it’s not ‘All About the U’ for Russell by the time he graduates in the spring of 2017.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Russell told Rivals . “I just have to keep on working, I can never stop working.”

For now, the latest Miami commit is set to join an Arlington Country Day program that had eight former players on D1 rosters this past season.

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

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?