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Dez Wells’ lawsuit, Michael Dixon, and Jesse Morgan’s fail attempt at a waiver

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Big news broke late on Tuesday night as word spread of a lawsuit that Maryland guard Dez Wells filed against his old school, Xavier, as a result of his expulsion stemming from a sexual assault allegation.

The NCAA ruled that Wells was allowed to be eligible at Maryland immediately despite the fact that he was expelled by Xavier, which is why he was able to play this season. Part of the reason was that everyone involved with the legal handling of the allegation passed on filing charges against Wells, with a local prosecutor going as far as ripping Xavier in the media.

That matters because this year there is another player with sexual assault allegations hanging over his head while looking to get a waiver from the NCAA to be ruled eligible immediately.

Michael Dixon was initially suspended by Missouri following a sexual assault allegation prior to the start of last season. He sat out games for the first couple of weeks before news leaked of a second alleged sexual assault from two years earlier. That was enough to get Dixon booted from the team, but, like Wells, it wasn’t enough to warrant being charged and, according to reports at the time, Dixon wasn’t even questioned by the district attorney.

Beyond the fact that there are two separate allegations (I’m not trivializing the importance of that, but facts are facts, and Dixon was never charged), Dixon’s situation doesn’t look all that different from Wells’.

That’s why Memphis accepted Dixon’s commitment this summer, and it’s why the school is pushing for an NCAA waiver to get him eligible immediately.

And the Tigers need a waiver if they ever want to see Dixon suit up for them. Dixon has played three seasons, which means that after sitting out last year, the 2013-2014 season will be the fifth and final year he can play; NCAA athletes have five years to use four seasons of eligibility. Dixon didn’t play last season, but he also didn’t spend last year sitting out at Memphis and working towards his degree, one of the requirements for transfers doing their mandatory one year in residency.

The NCAA, like many of the rest of us, essentially determined that Wells was railroaded by Xavier despite being innocent. This lawsuit only reinforces that the NCAA was, in all likelihood, correct in that assumption.

But will they be willing to provide the same benefit of the doubt to a player with two accusations to his name?

The precedence is there, but ironically enough, it may not be the best case to compare Dixon to.

That would be Jesse Morgan.

Morgan tore his ACL early last season while playing for UMass and was kicked out of school after the injury but prior to the spring semester. It wasn’t reported in the media and he didn’t transfer immediately as he worked through the school’s appeal process. This summer, Morgan announced a transfer to Temple, applying for a waiver from the NCAA to allow him to be eligible immediately; he’s used three seasons of eligibility in four years, and he didn’t spend last semester sitting out or working towards a degree. Sounds like Dixon, right?

Well, the NCAA denied Morgan’s waiver last month, which means his career playing in the NCAA is over.

So precedence is there on both sides.

And while Dixon’s case has been compared to Wells’ given the fact that both involved sexual assault allegations that never made it to court, the circumstances surrounding Morgan’s eligibility is much more similar to Dixon.

Given the result, that’s not a good thing for Dixon.

 

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.