University of Houston

Former Navarro JC head coach Johnny Estelle joins Houston coaching staff

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Steve Forbes, who made the move from head coach at Northwest Florida State to joining Gregg Marshall’s staff at Wichita State, wasn’t the only coach to go from the junior college ranks to Division I this week.

On Wednesday, Houston head coach James Dickey announced the addition of former Navarro Junior College (Texas) head coach Johnny Estelle to his coaching staff. Estelle, who has been the head coach at Navarro since 2008, led the Bulldogs to a record of 126-48 during his tenure at the school and won three Region XIV tournament titles.

And he’s got a connection to the Houston program, with current senior guard Jimmie Jones being one of three Navarro products who have transferred to Houston during Estelle’s run as head coach. The other two, Darian Thibodeaux (2010-12) and Leon Gibson (2011-13), have since graduated from UH.

“We are excited to welcome Johnny to the University of Houston,” Dickey said in the release announcing the hire. “Over the years, I have observed how Johnny has been able to get the most from his players. He is a family man, a quality person and has great rapport with his players.

“Johnny is a tremendous addition to our staff, and we are pleased to welcome him, his wife Ana and their children Jevon, Jasmine, Jacquelyn and Jayden to the Houston Basketball family.”

Estelle, who replaces Daniyal Robinson (who joined Porter Moser’s staff at Loyola-Illinois), joins Alvin Brooks and Ronnie Hamilton on Dickey’s coaching staff for the 2013-14 season. The Cougars, who finished the 2012-13 season with a 20-13 record, will play its first season in the American Athletic Conference this winter.

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?