Ari Stewart ruled academically ineligible at USC

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Things were getting too good to be true for first year USC head coach Andy Enfield.

Pe’Shon Howard and D.J. Haley recently transferred from their schools on the East Coast back to their native state — Howard from Maryland and Haley from Virginia Commonwealth — and both will be eligible to play for the 2013-14 season, providing immediate help for a team that struggled on offense last year and lost their top two offensive threats in Jio Fontan and Eric Wise to graduation.

Unfortunately for Enfield, Ari Stewart will not be a part of the rebuilding effort that he has on his hands. Stewart has been ruled academically ineligible for the coming season, Galen Central first reported.

Stewart was a Top 50 recruit coming out of high school, according to He spent his first two seasons at Wake Forest, but transferred to USC following the 2010-11 season due to academic struggles. Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik told the Star News Online of Stewart’s struggles in the classroom:

Our players are going to be held accountable for doing the right thing. That means going to class and doing what’s expected. That’s all part of being a player. He’s got some academic work he needs to address.

Stewart’s academic issues have caught up to him once again. His eligibility for the coming season was very much up in the air over the summer as Stewart was actually ineligible, but he was attending summer school in an attempt to regain his eligibility.

Even though his basketball career is all but over, Stewart is reportedly enrolled in classes and began them on Monday as he looks to get back on track academically to earn his degree.

Stewart did not play a prominent role under last year’s initial coach Kevin O’Neil, but was more of a factor under interim coach Bob Cantu. Over a seven game stretch in the middle of the Pac-12 schedule, Stewart averaged 13.3 minutes and 4.4 points, but a broken left hand forced him to miss six of USC’s final eight games.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

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Kelly Kline/Under Armor
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While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

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Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.