SEC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals - Vanderbilt v Kentucky

NCAA grants Georgia State guard Ryan Harrow immediate eligibility

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Ryan Harrow has now been a member of three different programs during his three-plus seasons as a college basketball player. There’s the freshman campaign at N.C. State, which came to an end thanks to the combination of a coaching change and the emergence of Lorenzo Brown as the team’s leader at the point.

Harrow made the decision to transfer to Kentucky, joining a program that would be limited on options at point guard when he became eligible for the 2012-13 season. In 29 games Harrow averaged 9.9 points and 2.8 assists per game for the Wildcats in a season that wasn’t as smooth as anyone would have hoped, as the reigning national champions finished their season in the Postseason NIT.

With his father in poor health Harrow (a native of Marietta, Ga.) made the decision to transfer for the second time, moving to Georgia State with the hope that his situation would lead to the NCAA allowing him to play without having to sit out the year in residency required of transfers.

Harrow received the answer he was hoping for on Wednesday, as Georgia State announced that the NCAA has granted him immediate eligibility.

“I am really excited for Ryan and his family. There is no doubt this will be a huge boost for our team as Ryan is an extremely talented player,” Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter said in the release. “He has been working hard not knowing if he would be eligible or not and I have no doubt will work even harder now knowing that he will get to play this season.

“I would like to thank the NCAA, University of Kentucky and all of the members of the Georgia State staff who helped make this possible. It was a total team effort and greatly appreciated by the coaching staff and Ryan’s family.”

The Panthers, who will play their first season in the Sun Belt after leaving (for football reasons) the CAA, return their top three scorers from last season in guards R.J. Hunter (17.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Devonta White (14.8 ppg, 3.9 apg) and small forward Manny Atkins (14.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg).

Adding Harrow to the equation makes Georgia State even deeper on the perimeter (senior Rashaad Richardson returns as well), and gives them a shot at competing with Western Kentucky (winner of the last two Sun Belt tournament titles) for Sun Belt supremacy.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.