D.J. Haley, C. J. Aiken

USC announces addition of former VCU center D.J. Haley

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Just before the start of the Atlantic 10 tournament, 7-foot center D.J. Haley made the decision to leave the VCU basketball program in order to concentrate on his academics. In three seasons at the school Haley started 48 of the 102 games in which he played, averaging 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

In announcing Haley’s decision to no longer play at VCU, head coach Shaka Smart made the following statement:

“We appreciate DJ’s contributions to our program over the past three years. Unfortunately, he has decided that his heart is no longer invested in basketball. Clearly it takes a significant commitment to compete as a student-athlete at this level and we understand that DJ’s priorities have changed.  We wish DJ nothing but the best for his future.”

Having completed his undergraduate studies, Haley’s decided to play his senior season…at USC, where he’ll be eligible to play immediately due to his having graduated.

Haley joins a program that has a new head coach in Andy Enfield, and the program also doesn’t have much in the way of front court depth. Senior Omar Oraby is the most experienced returnee, as he averaged 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in 2012-13.

USC adds power forward Nikola Jovanovich, and given their options at small forward (veterans Ari Stewart and Byron Wesley, and freshman Roschon Prince), it’s likely a safe assumption that the Trojans will go “small” at certain points this season. But with some of the front court players both arriving and returning to the Pac-12, USC needs all the help they can find in the paint. Haley will help USC in this regard.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.