Mark Emmert

NCAA requests that O’Bannon lawsuit be delayed 15 months

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This summer hasn’t been an especially kind one to the NCAA in the court of public opinion, especially when it comes to the way in which current (and former players) are used by the organization.

A look into the Johnny Manziel case resulted in the discovery that the NCAA’s official online store did link individual players to their jerseys via the site’s search option. This option would later be disabled, and NCAA president Mark Emmert announced during a teleconference that the site would no longer sell player jerseys. And there was also the decision in another court to allow the lawsuit

With more people voicing their displeasure with the current system, there have been questions as to what impact the lawsuit filed by former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller against the NCAA and EA Sports would have on the current climate.

In late July the defendants’ claim that their use of player likenesses was protected by the First Amendment was denied by a circuit court of appeals, allowing the case that’s essentially been consolidated into the O’Bannon suit to proceed.

With the hits they’ve taken in the courtroom, it’s understandable if the defendants in the O’Bannon lawsuit (the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company) felt the need to essentially “lick their wounds” and take some time to regroup. On Monday the NCAA requested that the trial, which currently has a start date of June 9, 2014, be delayed until August 28, 2015. The other two defendants requested that the start of the trial be delayed five months.

The plaintiffs issued a written request to U.S. Distirct Judge Claudia Wilken that she not push the start date back, thus giving her another matter to consider while also needing to rule as to whether or not the case will receive class-action certification.

Steve Berkowitz of USA Today provided a summary of the other matters on Judge Wilken’s plate regarding the O’Bannon suit:

An amended version of the complaint that added current college athletes to the list of named plaintiffs.

Motions that each of the defendants filed in response to amended version of the complaint. The NCAA and EA want the opportunity to seek their dismissal from the case before Wilken rules on class certification – and the NCAA wants the opportunity to conduct an extensive round of evidence gathering in conjunction with its presumptive bid for dismissal. CLC wants all but one of the current-athlete plaintiffs removed from the case and it wants the scope of the plaintiffs’ case to be reduced.

The parties’ inability to agree on a case schedule, which Wilken had asked them on Aug. 8 to negotiate and then file with her on Monday. Instead of an agreed-upon schedule, she got a 16-page joint statement that said early on: “The parties have not been able to reach any agreements on any of the topics discussed.”

In recent weeks there have been more than a few hypotheses as to what would happen to collegiate athletics should  the plaintiffs win. However based on the many moving parts, it seems as if any changes to the current model won’t be happening for quite some time.

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)
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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.