Arkansas Razorbacks Anderson looks on as his team takes on the LSU Tigers during the first round of the SEC men's NCAA basketball tournament in New Orleans

Shooting guard Nick Babb becomes Arkansas’ third 2014 commit

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Having already received verbal commitments from in-state products Anton Beard and Trey Thompson, Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson hopped across the border into Texas for the Razorbacks’ third 2014 commitment.

On Saturday 6-4 shooting guard Nick Babb (James Martin H.S., Arlington, Tex.) announced via Twitter his decision to attend the SEC school, picking Arkansas over SMU and Texas A&M. The younger brother of former Iowa State guard Chris Babb, Nick has the tools needed to provide Arkansas with a versatile perimeter option when he arrives on campus.

And with the Razorbacks losing Rickey Scott and Mardracus Wade following the 2013-14 campaign, Babb will have the opportunity to earn quality minutes as a freshman.  One factor in Babb’s decision to commit were the words from Arkansas transfer and Dallas native Keaton Miles, who began his college career at West Virginia.

“They have a good environment there,” Babb told Otis Kirk of 247Sports. “I also have heard good things about Arkansas from Keaton Miles.”

Looking ahead, Arkansas certainly has a need for additional shooters as they look to improve their standing in the SEC. As a team Arkansas shot just 30% from beyond the arc last season, placing them 13th in the SEC. Arkansas’ best perimeter shooter last season was Kiko Haydar, who managed to hit 27 of his 69 attempts from beyond the arc (39.1%).

To be fair Arkansas did manage to make 50% of their two-point attempts, but with their top two leading scorers (B.J. Young and Marshawn Powell) gone they’ll need to improve from deep if they’re to improve on last season’s 19-13 mark. Arkansas’ leading returning scorers are forward Coty Clarke (7.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Wade (6.5 ppg), with Clarke also leading the Hogs in field goal percentage (51.4%) in 2012-13.

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?