Ari Stewart

Report: Academic issues end career of USC forward Ari Stewart

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Just days after finding out that VCU transfer D.J. Haley is eligible to play immediately, USC’s front court rotation took a hit.

According to Galen Central, 6-7 senior forward Ari Stewart’s collegiate career has come to an end for academic reasons. With Stewart sitting out the 2011-12 season after transferring to the Pac-12 school from Wake Forest, his five-year “clock” to complete four seasons of eligibility expires as a result of this development. If there’s a positive to take out of this news, it’s that Stewart plans to stick around and complete his degree.

In 18 games last season Stewart averaged just 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. His best outing as a Trojan came in their 62-44 win over Long Beach State on November 13, as he scored ten points on 4-for-8 shooting from the field. From a production standpoint this isn’t a huge loss for first-year head coach Andy Enfield, but it doesn’t help given their overall numbers.

The good news for the Trojans is that Haley’s arrival gives USC a second center to go along with senior Omar Oraby. But after those two and junior small forward Byron Wesley the Trojans are left with underclassmen.

Sophomore Strahinja Gavrilovic played in just six games last season, and also in the mix are freshmen Roschon Prince and Nikola Jovanovic. Darion Clark, who transferred in from Charlotte, will have to sit out the 2013-14 season per NCAA transfer rules.

With Pe’Shon Howard and J.T. Terrell on the perimeter the Trojans won’t lack for experience, with freshmen Kahlil Dukes and Julian Jacobs looking to crack the rotation as well. But USC won’t have much depth, and that has the potential to be an issue once the Trojans hit conference play in an improved Pac-12.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.