Tom Maayan headed back to Seton Hall after Israeli army grants furlough

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One of the question marks for Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard this offseason was whether or not he would have the services of sophomore guard Tom Maayan. Maayan, a native of Israel, was thought to be done as a Pirate due to his need to serve the three-year stint in the military that’s required of all Israeli citizens (women are required to serve two years).

But Seton Hall, most notably former director of basketball operations Stephen Sauers (now the top assistant at Cal State Riverside), continued to fight with the hope that Maayan would be allowed to return to the program. That hope has become a reality, with the Israeli Defense Forces granting Maayan a 90-day furlough.

Maayan returns to the States today according to Jerry Carino of Gannett New Jersey, and the expectation is that the furlough will eventually be extended so the guard can finish his college career before having to serve. Maayan’s uncle, David Fuchs, was grateful for the effort Seton Hall put in on his nephew’s behalf.

“I’m telling you from my heart — I am a Jewish Israeli, Seton Hall is a Catholic university in America, and what they did for us, I don’t have words,” Fuchs said via phone Wednesday. “They took a broken child and they gave him a chance. From now until the end of my presence on Earth, I can’t say how much I appreciate what they did.”

Maayan was detained by the IDF for missing the date he was supposed to report for duty, ultimately serving in northern Israel. But no one gave up on the possibility of him returning to Seton Hall, regardless of how grim the outlook was. The end result is the return of a player who won’t have as much on his plate in 2013-14.

Maayan, pressed into playing the majority of his minutes at point guard due to the Pirates’ lack of options at the position, averaged 3.1 assists and 2.8 turnovers per game as a freshman and struggled offensively in the role. However Seton Hall has options at the point this season, with Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs eligible after having to sit out the 2012-13 season per NCAA transfer rules and freshman Jaren Sina having the ability to handle some minutes on the ball as well.

There will be more competition for minutes on the perimeter but this development will likely benefit Maayan (and Seton Hall) in the end.

Report: North Carolina not attending the White House after winning national title

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

VIDEO: John Wall gets emotional talking to his mom during Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.