Rivals releases their post-live period Class of 2014 rankings

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On Wednesday afternoon, Rivals released the latest installment of their Top 150 rankings for the Class of 2014, and it should really come as no surprise to anyone that 6-foot-11, 270 pound center Jahlil Okafor is the No. 1 recruit in the class.

Big men that are that size, that nimble, and that enjoy playing in the paint are a rarity, and the fact that he’s an awesome basketball player and, by all accounts, a good kid only helps matters.

There was a bit of a shakeup in the rest of the top five, however.

New SMU point guard commit Emmanuel Mudiay is the No. 2 player in the country, followed wing Stanley Johnson, big man Cliff Alexander and point guard Tyus Jones. Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn, Trey Lyles, Justise Winslow and Justin Jackson round out the top ten.

Here’s the most interesting part about these rankings: only one player in the top nine (Mudiay) has committed to a school, and just three of the top 14 players have made a decision on where they want to play their college ball. There’s plenty of uncommitted talent across the country, which should make for some fireworks on the recruiting front over the course of the fall, as players take their official visits and dominoes begin to fall as players across the country make decisions.

What do I mean by dominoes falling?

Here’s an example: the common consensus is that Jones, the highest-ranked point guard in the country, will be committing to Duke once he and Okafor — who have been quite vocal about the fact that they want to play their college ball together — finish going on their scheduled visits. That made Mudiay a top priority for Kentucky, who will likely need a point guard next season once Andrew Harrison enters the NBA Draft.

But Mudiay committed to SMU, which puts Kentucky in a tough spot. Joel Berry, Jaquan Lyle, Ja’Quan Newton, Josh Perkins and Chris Chiozza are all committed already. Quentin Snider is from Louisville. Jordan McLaughlin wants to stay out west. This puts the Wildcats in a bind, which is why they’ve ramped up their recruitment of Tyler Ulis and Dominic MaGee.

With Kentucky going hard after some of the top-ranked point guards in the class, pressure on schools like Michigan State and Kansas mounts as well, as both programs need but remain without a point guard in the Class of 2014.

Mudiay’s decision to commit to SMU set in motion a chain of events that shot up the value of the best remaining point guards in the class.

Who will be the next top ten recruit to commit?

And how will that decision affect the rest of the players at that position in top 150?

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

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Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

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Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

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The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.

North Carolina releases response to latest NCAA Notice of Allegations

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North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.

On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.

What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.

“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”

“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”

The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.

A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.

No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline in early June by the NCAA after an investigation.

Louisville has imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches.