NCAA Men's Championship Game - Kansas v Kentucky

Changes to NCAA enforcement model, recruiting go into effect

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For many who follow college basketball, the big news coming from the NCAA on Thursday was the adjustment made to how the NCAA tournament selection committee goes about its job of filling the 68-team bracket every March.

But August 1 also marks the day in which the NCAA’s new enforcement model goes into effect. The Committee on Infractions has grown from 10 to 24 members, and more importantly head coach accountability has been enhanced.

Essentially, if an assistant coach is out committing NCAA rules violations the Committee on Infractions will (in theory) hand out harsher penalties to head coaches who in the past may have been able to get away with the “I didn’t know” excuse. With the NCAA saying that it’s their job to know everything that goes on with a program, head coaches will need to be more observant (if they haven’t been already).

“I agree that if an assistant does something wrong, it should be on the head coach,” said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo last month. “I agree with that 100%. I’m fine with that. It’s our job, and we should be held accountable. … But I think absolutes are hard. There are some circumstances I struggle with.”

The possible penalties for a head coach who fails to do so ranges from ten percent of their team’s games (usually works out to three games) to an entire season.

“We heard members across Division I declare that we need clear, consistent and credible accountability,” Lou Anna K. Simon, Michigan State president and Executive Committee chair, said in the release. “These membership-driven changes are a great first step in our ongoing effort to improve enforcement.  The changes provide tough, fair consequences that communicate to universities, coaches, student-athletes and others that rule-breaking will not be tolerated.”

This wasn’t the only change that college basketball programs will have to deal with however, as August 1 also marks the first day in which all four coaches on staff (head coach and three assistants) are allowed to be on the road recruiting at the same time. Prior to this move three of the four could be out during evaluation periods.

Don’t expect this rule to have much of an impact during the season, as programs will still have just 130 total days to use (as a staff, not per coach) in order to evaluate prospective student-athletes. Where it will come into play are during the May and July evaluation periods (April’s evaluation weekend is counted in the 130 in-season days, per NCAA rules).

Given the number of events on the grassroots circuit jammed into those four evaluation periods (the 2013-14 NCAA recruiting calendar can be viewed here), allowing all four coaches to be on the road could help alleviate some of the issues that arise due to traveling from one location to another in order to make an appearance at games involving their recruiting targets.

But on the flip side, how will programs properly balance this change with the need to work with the players currently on the roster? In July programs have two days in between evaluation periods, with a lot of that time being used for updating the status of their recruits, holding individual workouts with current players and spending time with their own families.

Already a delicate situation to maintain, it will be interesting to see how coaching staffs adjust their summer strategies when it comes to properly balancing the need to find future players with the need to develop the players already in the program.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

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.