University of Houston Athletics

Houston releases a statement on Michael Young’s lawsuit

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Over the weekend, Joseph Young’s father, Michael, went public with a lawsuit that he filed against the University of Houston regarding his employment and his son’s status as a member of the basketball team.

Long story short, Michael was the Director of Basketball Operations and was reassigned into a program without any association with the basketball team around the same time that his son decided to transfer out of the program. Joseph has since committed to Oregon, and will need a waiver from the NCAA to use his final two seasons of eligibility. Michael is claiming in the lawsuit that the job he received was a no-show job where he would still get paid as long as his son played for the school, and he’s looking to get the contract voided so as to avoid having it be an NCAA violation.

On Wednesday, the school sent out a release responding to the accusations made by the Youngs.

“The University offered the new contract to Young containing the community relations duties, and he signed the contract on May 30, 2013,” the release said. “The University has continued its obligations under this new contract and has tried to assign him duties, only to be rebuffed by Young’s attorney. However, because Young, through his attorney, refused to perform any duties under the new contract, the University was compelled to provide notice to Young on June 17, 2013, that it was exercising its right under the contract to terminate the contract on 30 days’ notice. The University will continue its contractual obligations to pay Young through July 17, 2013.”

“At no time was Young informed that he should or could sit at home, not perform work and accept a paycheck from the University, nor was Young ever told his employment was contingent on his son playing basketball for the University. Young’s arrangement in his new community relations role was reviewed by the Athletic Department’s compliance office, as well as the Office of the General Counsel, to ensure it was in compliance with applicable laws and NCAA bylaws.  The University has been transparent, and its actions have been appropriate. We are disheartened and saddened to hear these allegations we believe are baseless and untrue.  We do not intend to comment further except to state we look forward to defending our actions in court.”

As John Infante of the Bylaw Blog notes, the elder Young was, essentially, fired on June 17th, meaning that his son’s path to a waiver with Oregon should be clear; the outcome of this lawsuit probably won’t affect whether or not the NCAA allows him to play next season.

Now the question becomes whether or not Houston actually committed an NCAA violation when they reassigned Young. As Infante explains here, Bylaw 11.4.2 says that within two years, either before or after a player enrolls at a school, that school cannot sign a contract with anyone associated with the athlete unless that person takes a spot as one of the school’s three assistant coaches. The intent was to eliminate package deals where the coach or parent of a player would get a job on the coaching staff — i.e. assistant strength and conditioning director — in exchange for the player signing with the school.

Young was reassigned and signed a new contract that , which, by the letter of the law, violates a rule. Houston makes it clear that the job they hired Young for was not a no-show job, but, as Infante says, “real jobs as just as prohibited by Bylaw 11.4.2 as fake jobs“:

A reassignment is different than a promotion, raise, extension, or renegotiation of a contract. Everyone agrees that this is a “new contract”. And the grandfather clause says “contracts signed” before Bylaw 11.4.2 was proposed can be honored, not “employment started” before that date.

But I might not be disagreeing with Houston, I might be disagreeing with the NCAA. Houston possibly, maybe even likely, got an interpretation from the NCAA, Conference USA, or both. In which case it doesn’t matter how I read the bylaw, I’m wrong and they are correct.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I get the feeling that it will be all but forgotten if Joseph Young gets his waiver from the NCAA.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.